Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over her final Chicago City Council meeting

It is also the final scheduled meeting for 16 incumbent council members.

Thursday, April 20, 2023
Lightfoot presides over last City Council meeting
The Chicago City Council had its final meeting led by Mayor Lori Lightfoot Wednesday, before Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson takes over next month.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot led her last City Council meeting Wednesday.

She wasn't the only elected official saying goodbye. Sixteen incumbent council members, including Chicago's longest serving one, are leaving or are already gone, which means this was their last scheduled meeting.

Ed Burke is retiring after 54 years in office, as he faces federal corruption charges.

"Chicago is and will always be the most American of cities, may God bless America may God bless Chicago," Burke said.

He received a huge round of applause as he gave the last of thousands of speeches on the floor. He noted that, during his tenure, he has attended the funerals of 243 slain police officers and firefighters.

There was enough praise to go around for all the veteran aldermen who are stepping down.

"I'm excited that I'm not going to be here, that I'm starting a new chapter, and I'm very hopeful," Ald. Leslie Hairston said.

Retiring 5th Ward Ald. Hairston said she is most proud of finally getting Promontory Point landmarked, which happened Wednesday.

Alderman Roberto Maldonado said he is leaving knowing he successfully stopped gentrification in his 26th Ward.

"To me, nothing better than leaving on your own terms and being pleased with I feel I was able to accomplish," he said.

There was much praise for Lightfoot, including from aldermen who were some of her biggest critics.

"Your presence made me become a better alderman. My presence made you become a better mayor, and at the end, together at the end, we made this a better city, that's my story. I'm sticking to it," Alderman Ray Lopez said.

Lightfoot took it all on, as did her mini me, who watched the entire meeting and got to bang his own gavel.

The new Council and Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson will be sworn in May 15. Retiring aldermen said the one piece of advice they gave their successors is to always serve your own ward first.

RELATED | Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson addresses state lawmakers in Springfield

Mayor Lightfoot served one four-year term in office after being ousted in the February election.

Some City Council members said she leaves the budget in a better place than her predecessors and got the city through the pandemic. Others criticized her combative style of politics, which rubbed many Council members the wrong way.

Some aldermen called the past four years a roller coaster ride filled with tense meetings and divisiveness.

Many of the incumbent Council members are retiring, but some have left due to criminal charges or looming federal indictments.

Lots of shake-ups and leadership changes are coming, making way for a younger, more progressive legislative body.

The Council did have business to get to at Wednesday's session, but a large portion of the meeting was spent on farewell speeches.

Lightfoot did not address the Council or media after the lengthy meeting ended.