Retirements, resignations in city council could signal move toward new model of government: experts

With Ed Burke facing racketeering indictment, 14th Ward see new representation for 1st time in 50 years

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Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Election could generate 'major shift' in Chicago City Council: experts
With Ed Burke facing a racketeering indictment, the 14th Ward see new representation in the Chicago City Council for the first time in 50 years.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The polling place at 54th and Kedzie is a longtime fixture in the 14th Ward, just as Alderman Ed Burke has been a fixture in the city council.

The 79 year old has held the office for more than 50 years, but Burke, facing a 14-count indictment for racketeering, is not on the ballot this election, leaving longtime voters with a choice of two new faces.

"We've been through this 54 years with Burke. Now, it's time for change," said Rafael Trinidad, a 14th Ward resident.

The 14th Ward is just one of an unprecedented number of wards that will have new faces in their offices.

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"Right now, people need changes, because a lot of people are poor here," said Gloria Amazon, another 14th Ward resident.

ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington said this election will likely usher in a younger generation of alderpersons, which will likely mean a number of changes for the city council.

"This may be the biggest turnaround we've seen in the history of the city council. Between retirements and resignations, you're seeing a major, major shift," Washington said.

New alderpersons are less likely to be tied to the traditional Chicago machine politic and are more likely to be progressive. Longtime Chicago political consultant Delmarie Cobb said the new council may help move the city toward a different model of government, where alderpersons, whose wards typically hold 40,000 to 60,000 residents, have a stronger voice.

"Those of us who are progressive hope to change the trajectory of city council and take it back to its intention which is a strong council, weak mayor," Cobb said.

With the departure of Burke and other longtime alderpersons comes the departure of centuries of institutional knowledge at city hall. And, depending on your perspective, that can either be a bad thing or a good thing.