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Chicago’s Next Chapter

By Mary Kay Minaghan, MKM Services

Mayor Lightfoot Sworn In As Chicago’s 56th Mayor

On May 20, Lori E. Lightfoot was sworn in as Chicago’s fifty-sixth Mayor at Wintrust Arena. This was the largest venue for a mayoral swearing-in in recent memory. The crowd was excited and the mood was far less formal than in past years, largely due to the fact that Mayor Lightfoot offered her online supporters an opportunity to obtain a free ticket to the event.

In her inaugural address, Mayor Lightfoot stressed the importance of having a strong education system and safe streets for every child regardless of zip code. Mayor Lightfoot hails from Massillon, Ohio, a small steel town outside of Akron. She came to Chicago to attend University of Illinois Law School and decided quickly this is where she belonged.  She vowed to continue to build this great city and leave it better, stronger, fairer, and more prosperous than we found it.

Mayor Lightfoot acknowledged the fiscal problems facing the City, noting that her staff is already hard at work analyzing the problems and she promised to deliver a plan to put Chicago on a path to fiscal solvency. Part of her plan will undoubtedly include the revenues approved by the Illinois General Assembly in its closing days of session.

Mayor Lightfoot also prioritized the City’s affordable housing crisis, adding that developers can no longer take tax dollars and leave someone else to solve the affordable housing crisis. She noted that Chicago’s stability means supporting our business community, big and small.

The portion of her speech that prompted the most thunderous applause was when she professed Chicago must have integrity. In stark contrast to the old saying, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform,” Mayor Lightfoot declared, “Well get ready, reform is here.” She followed up her statement shortly after the inaugural ceremony by signing an Executive Order that directs City department employees, where it is not required by any law, not to defer to Aldermanic perogative. While her executive order clearly regulates the activities of department employees, it cannot be enforced upon the members of the City Council.  To achieve reforms in Aldermanic perogative, the City Council will have to adopt a comprehensive series of amendments to various municipal code provisions. Stay tuned to learn more about what reform Chicago’s Aldermanic perogative will take going into the summer.

Women Occupy All of Chicago’s Constitutional Offices

The Mayoral Inaugural Ceremony marked the first time in the history of Chicago that women hold all three Constitutional Offices. In additional to Mayor Lightfoot, Chicago’s City Clerk and new City Treasurer are all women.

Melissa Conyears-Ervin was sworn in as the new City Treasurer. She is a native of Chicago, born on the south side and raised on the west side. Treasurer Conyears-Ervin is focused on improving financial services to the un-banked and the under-bank populations of Chicago. As City Treasurer she will also hold a seat on the city’s pension boards and it is expected she will play in integral role in helping restore  Chicago’s fiscal health.

Anna Valencia was sworn in as City Clerk, after winning her first election to this seat in February. She has been serving in this position since she was first appointed, by then Mayor Emanuel, in December 2016 to fill a vacancy. Shortly after being appointed, Clerk Valencia obtained City Council approval of Chicago City Key, an optional government-issued identification card offered to all Chicago residents. This ID was originally created to help reduce barriers for those who have difficulty obtaining a government-issued ID card. It has grown to include discounts and other benefits for all Chicago residents.

Chicago City Council Members Sworn In

The 50 Aldermen who make up the Chicago City Council were also sworn in on May 20. Among the 50, there are 12 new Aldermen, 7 of whom categorize themselves as Democratic Socialists bringing the total number of Democratic Socialists in the City Council to 8. Two of the newly elected Aldermen add to the ranks of the Progressive Caucus, bringing that group’s total to 9. Together these two groups have a voting strength of 16, but that still falls 10 votes short of the 26 needed to pass an ordinance. The new City Council is comprised of 20 African Americans, 12 Hispanics, 18 Whites and 15 women. BOMA/Chicago played a role in a number of Aldermanic races and fared well overall. Almost all of the incumbent Aldermen and Aldermanic candidates supported by the BOMA were successful.

Chicago City Council Committees Approved

At its recessed City Council meeting on May 29, the Chicago City Council approved the new City Council Committee make-up for the coming term.  Mayor Lightfoot engineered a number of changes to the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the City Council Committees.  There was little opposition to these changes and they were approved on a voice vote. Below are the key Committees BOMA works with most often.

Zoning, Landmarks & Building Standards
Chair: Thomas Tunney (44th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ariel Reboyras (30th Ward)

Chair: Scott Wagiuespack (32nd Ward)
Vice Chair: Leslie Hairston (5th Ward)

Budget & Government Operations
Chair: Patricia Dowell (3rd Ward)
Vice Chair: Deborah Silverstein (50th Ward)

Transportation & Public Way
Chair: Howard Brookins (21st Ward)
Vice Chair: Michael Rodriguez (22nd Ward)

Public Safety
Chair: Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward)
Vice Chair: Harry Osterman (48th Ward)

Health & Environmental Protection (divided into two Committees, see below)

  • Environmental Protection & Energy
    Chair: George Cardenas (12th Ward)
    Vice Chair: Samantha Nugent (39th Ward)
  • Human Relations & Health
    Chair: Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward)
    Vice Chair: James Cappleman (46th Ward)

About the Author

Mary Kay Minaghan is President of MKM Services, which has been providing effective lobbying services to associations and businesses for more than 20 years.  Prior to starting MKM Services, she served as Executive Director of the Federation of Women Contractors (FWC) and was actively involved in issues affecting the construction industry.  Preceding her work with FWC, Ms. Minaghan served as Director of Government Affairs for the Chicago Association of REALTORS®.  She served as chief lobbyist for the REALTORS® before the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board of Commissioners, directed the organization’s grass roots efforts and managed the organization’s sizeable political action committee.