"While we were on the council, the folks sitting here, we had different viewpoints, but we always were respectful."
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some former Chicago City Council members suggest a lack of civility in the city council is one of the driving reasons for why so many people are leaving. Nearly one-third of the council has left for one reason or another.
Former aldermen Tom Allen (38th Ward), Marge Laurino (39th Ward), Joe Moore (49th Ward) and Pat O'Connor (40th Ward) served for more than 100 years combined on the Chicago City Council.
They offered some perspective on the mass exodus from the council Friday at the Union League Club, suggesting that it's more than pandemic fatigue - it's also how contentious and self-focused people have become.
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"I think there's a loss of camaraderie and kind of friendship," Allen said. "While we were on the council, the folks sitting here, we had different viewpoints, but we always were respectful."
Others believe it's just a tough time to be an incumbent in City Hall.
"The public is very restless and I'm not sure that they even know, the electorate, knows what they are looking for and it's just a time of discontent," Laurino said.
But, will that mean a tough reelection road ahead for Mayor Lori Lightfoot?
"I'm not privy to the polling numbers, but people on the street are not happy, they're not happy," Allen said.
"Anyone who can tell you today who's going to be elected mayor in April, 'cause there will be a runoff, is completely on drugs," Moore said.
As to why some big names, like Arne Duncan or Mike Quigley, have opted not to run, it may just be because the 24/7 nature of being mayor is too big a commitment given the city's current challenges.
"I would say that those people who have passed on it are basically looking at the level of commitment that they would have to put towards trying to solve the problems we currently have," O'Connor said. "And they're basically just saying, I'm not willing to do that."
The primary election is still more than five months away. Not only is it expected that more members of the city council may decide to retire, but the pool of mayoral candidates is also very likely to change.