Chicago City Council

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The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Chicago in Illinois. It consists of 50 aldermen elected from 50 wards to serve four-year terms. The Chicago City Council is gaveled into session regularly (usually monthly) to consider ordinances, orders, and resolutions whose subject matter includes traffic code changes, utilities, taxes, and many other issues. The presiding officer of the Chicago City Council is the Mayor of Chicago. The secretary is the City Clerk of Chicago. Both positions are popularly elected offices.

The Chicago City Council Chambers are located in Chicago City Hall. Also located in the building are the downtown offices of the individual aldermen and staff.


Chicago City Council Chambers has long been the center of public corruption in Chicago.[according to whom?] The first conviction of Chicago aldermen and Cook County Commissioners for accepting bribes to rig a crooked contract occurred in 1869.[1] Between 1972 and 1999, 26 current or former Chicago aldermen were convicted for official corruption.[2][3][4] Between 1973 and 2012, 31 aldermen were convicted of corruption. Approximately 100 aldermen served in that period, which is a conviction rate of about one-third.[1][5]

Fourteen of the Chicago’s City Council's 19 committees routinely violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act over a four-month period, the last four months of 2007, by not keeping adequate written records of their meetings.[6] Chicago City Council committees violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act and their own rules by meeting and taking actions without a quorum at least four times over the same four-month span.[7]

Fewer than half of the Council's 28 committees met more than six times in 1986. The budget for Council committees was $5.3M in 1986.[8]

Although the body and elections to it are non-partisan, all of the current aldermen are members of the Democratic Party.


The council, in conjunction with the Mayor of Chicago, hears recommendations from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and then may grant individual properties Chicago Landmark status.

Chicago's aldermen are generally given exceptional deference, called "aldermanic privilege," to control city decisions and services within their ward.[9][10] Aldermanic privilege includes "zoning, licenses, permits, property-tax reductions, city contracts and patronage jobs"; political scientists have suggested that this facilitates corruption.[11] The system has been described as "50 aldermen serving essentially as mayors of 50 wards."[12]


Further information: Law of Illinois

The Journal of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Chicago is the official publication of the acts of the City Council.[13] The Municipal Code of Chicago is the codification of Chicago's local ordinances of a general and permanent nature.[13][14] Between May 18, 2011 and August, 2012, the first 100 days of the first term of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 2,845 ordinances and orders were introduced to the Council.[15]

Chicago aldermen[edit]

The last election was held in 2011, with new members being sworn in on May 16, 2011.

Ward Name First elected Party
1 Proco Joe Moreno 2010* Democratic
2 Robert Fioretti 2007 Democratic
3 Pat Dowell 2007 Democratic
4 Will Burns 2011 Democratic
5 Leslie Hairston 1999 Democratic
6 Roderick Sawyer 2011 Democratic
7 Natashia Holmes 2013* Democratic
8 Michelle A. Harris 2006* Democratic
9 Anthony Beale 1999 Democratic
10 John Pope 1999 Democratic
11 James Balcer 1997* Democratic
12 George Cardenas 2003 Democratic
13 Marty Quinn 2011 Democratic
14 Edward M. Burke 1969 Democratic
15 Toni Foulkes 2007 Democratic
16 Joann Thompson 2007 Democratic
17 Latasha Thomas 2000* Democratic
18 Lona Lane 2006* Democratic
19 Matthew O'Shea 2011 Democratic
20 Willie Cochran 2007 Democratic
21 Howard Brookins Jr. 2003 Democratic
22 Ricardo Muñoz 1993* Democratic
23 Michael Zalewski 1995 Democratic
24 Michael Chandler 2011 Democratic
25 Daniel Solis 1996* Democratic
26 Roberto Maldonado 2009* Democratic
27 Walter Burnett, Jr. 1995 Democratic
28 Jason Ervin 2011* Democratic
29 Deborah L. Graham 2010* Democratic
30 Ariel Reboyras 2003 Democratic
31 Ray Suarez 1991 Democratic
32 Scott Waguespack 2007 Democratic
33 Deb Mell 2013* Democratic
34 Carrie Austin 1994* Democratic
35 Rey Colón 2003 Democratic
36 Nicholas Sposato 2011 Democratic
37 Emma Mitts 2000* Democratic
38 Timothy Cullerton 2011* Democratic
39 Margaret Laurino 1994* Democratic
40 Patrick J. O'Connor 1983 Democratic
41 Mary O'Connor 2011 Democratic
42 Brendan Reilly 2007 Democratic
43 Michele Smith 2011 Democratic
44 Thomas M. Tunney 2002* Democratic
45 John Arena 2011 Democratic
46 James Cappleman 2011 Democratic
47 Ameya Pawar 2011 Democratic
48 Harry Osterman 2011 Democratic
49 Joe Moore 1991 Democratic
50 Debra Silverstein 2011 Democratic

* Year of appointment, not first election

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Simpson, Dick; Nowlan, James; Gradel, Thomas J.; Mouritsen Zmuda, Melissa; Sterrett, David; Cantor, Douglas (2012-02-15). "Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption; Anti-Corruption Report Number 5" (PDF). University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  2. ^ Reardon, Patrick T. (1999-01-31). "Aldermen Rogues' Gallery Opens '99 Wing; Jones Is 25th City Council Member Convicted Since 1972". Chicago Tribune. 
  3. ^ Gradel, Thomas J.; Simpson, Dick; Zimelis, Andris (2009-02-03). "Curing Corruption In Illinois: Anti-Corruption Report #1" (PDF). University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  4. ^ Bogira, Steve (2012-01-27). "Aldermanic rap sheet". Chicago Reader. 
  5. ^ "Chicago's 'hall of shame'". Chicago Tribune. 2012-02-24. 
  6. ^ Christoffer, Erica; Schlikerman, Becky (2008-05-19). "Off the Record: Chicago City Council Committees Evade The Law, Experts Say". Chicagotalks. 
  7. ^ Christoffer, Erica; Schlikerman, Becky (2008-05-19). "Out of Order: Council Committees Evade The Law". The Beachwood Reporter. 
  8. ^ Lipinski, Ann Marie; Baquet, Dean (1987-10-05). "Committees Work A Little And Spend A Lot". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  9. ^ "Curious City: What duties Chicago alderman are responsible for - WBEZ 91.5 Chicago". 
  10. ^ Aldermanic Privilege. Christopher Thale, Encyclopedia of Chicago.
  11. ^ "Crony chronicles: Aldermanic privilege - Prohibition, prostitution and Chicago’s mini-fiefdoms". Illinois Policy - An independent government watchdog. 
  12. ^ "Chicago City Council; budget; parking meters". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. 
  13. ^ a b Julia Ellis, Chicago City Clerk Legislative Counsel (20 November 2013). The Making of Chicago City Law - How It Works. OpenGov Foundation / YouTube. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Chicago City Council Journal of 27 June 1990, p. 17764
  15. ^ Dumke, Mick (2011-08-30). "New City Council, just about the same as the old City Council". Retrieved 2-12-10-08.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]