Chicago City Council
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 code changes, utilities, taxes, and many other issues. The presiding officer of the council is the Mayor of Chicago. The secretary is the City Clerk of Chicago. Both positions are city-wide elected offices. The Chicago City Council Chambers are located in Chicago City Hall, as are the downtown offices of the individual aldermen and staff.
Chicago City Council
Length of term
|Council Chambers in Chicago City Hall|
Established in 1837 as the Common Council and renamed to the "City Council" in 1872, it assumed its modern form of 50 wards electing one alderman each in 1923.
Chicago has been divided into wards since 1837, beginning with 6 wards. Until 1923, each ward elected two members to the city council. In 1923, the system that exists today was adopted with 50 wards, each with one council member elected by the ward. In accordance with Illinois state law, ward borders must be shifted after every federal census. This law is intended to give the population of the ward equal representation based by the size of the population of Chicago.
Chicago is unusual among major United States cities in the number of wards and representative aldermen that it maintains. It has been noted that the current ward system promotes diverse ethnic and cultural representation on the city council.
Chicago Aldermen are elected by popular vote every four years, on the last Tuesday in February. A run-off election, in the event that no candidate garners more than fifty percent of the vote, is held on the first Tuesday in April. The election is held on a non-partisan basis. New terms begin at noon on the third Monday in May following the election.
Chicago's aldermen are generally given exceptional deference, called "aldermanic privilege," to control city decisions and services within their ward. Aldermanic privilege includes "zoning, licenses, permits, property-tax reductions, city contracts and patronage jobs"; political scientists have suggested that this facilitates corruption. The system has been described as "50 aldermen serving essentially as mayors of 50 wards."
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. The Municipal Code of Chicago is the codification of Chicago's local ordinances of a general and permanent nature. Between May 18, 2011 and August, 2011, the first 100 days of the first term of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 2,845 ordinances and orders were introduced to the Council.
Below is a list of current Chicago aldermen, who were elected in the 2015 Chicago aldermanic elections. The 2019 Chicago aldermanic elections took place in two rounds on February 26 and April 2, 2019. Aldermen elected in these elections will take office on May 20, 2019.
Aldermanic elections are officially nonpartisan; party affiliations below are informational only.
* Year of appointment, not first election
Chicago City Council Chambers has long been the center of public corruption in Chicago. The first conviction of Chicago aldermen and Cook County Commissioners for accepting bribes to rig a crooked contract occurred in 1869. Between 1972 and 1999, 26 current or former Chicago aldermen were convicted for official corruption. 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.
Fourteen of the Chicago's City Council's nineteen committees routinely violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act during the last four months of 2007 by not keeping adequate written records of their meetings. 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.
Less than half of the Council's 28 committees met more than six times in 1986. The budget for Council committees was $5.3 million in 1986.
- Aldermanic elections are officially nonpartisan; party affiliations are informational only.
- "65 ILCS 20/ Revised Cities and Villages Act of 1941". Illinois General Assembly – Illinois Compiled Statutes. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- "Ward System". www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org. Archived from the original on 2015-02-23. Retrieved 2015-04-13.
- "Why Chicago Has 50 Aldermen". NBC Chicago. Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
- "State of Illinois Candidate's Guide 2019" (PDF). State Board of Elections. 6 August 2018. p. 32. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- "Curious City: What duties Chicago alderman are responsible for – WBEZ 91.5 Chicago". wbez.org. Archived from the original on 2015-03-31.
- Aldermanic Privilege. Archived 2015-03-17 at the Wayback Machine Christopher Thale, Encyclopedia of Chicago.
- "Crony chronicles: Aldermanic privilege – Prohibition, prostitution and Chicago's mini-fiefdoms". Illinois Policy – An independent government watchdog. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
- "Chicago City Council; budget; parking meters". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
- Julia Ellis, Chicago City Clerk Legislative Counsel (20 November 2013). The Making of Chicago City Law – How It Works. OpenGov Foundation / YouTube. Archived from the original on 20 January 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- Chicago City Council Journal of 27 June 1990 Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, p. 17764
- Dumke, Mick (2011-08-30). "New City Council, just about the same as the old City Council". Chicago Reader. Wrapports LLC. Archived from the original on 2017-07-29. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
- "City of Chicago :: Wards". www.cityofchicago.org. Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- 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. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
- Grossman, Ron (2013-07-31). "Chicago political history rife with nepotism, aldermanic dynasties". Chicago Tribune. Tronc, Inc. Archived from the original on 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
- Reardon, Patrick T. (1999-01-31). "Aldermen Rogues' Gallery Opens '99 Wing; Jones Is 25th City Council Member Convicted Since 1972". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2013-09-16.
- 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. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- Bogira, Steve (2012-01-27). "Aldermanic rap sheet". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
- "Chicago's 'hall of shame'". Chicago Tribune. 2012-02-24. Archived from the original on 2012-02-26.
- Christoffer, Erica; Schlikerman, Becky (2008-05-19). "Off the Record: Chicago City Council Committees Evade The Law, Experts Say". Chicagotalks. Archived from the original on 2012-02-03.
- Christoffer, Erica; Schlikerman, Becky (2008-05-19). "Out of Order: Council Committees Evade The Law". The Beachwood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2012-03-01.
- Lipinski, Ann Marie; Baquet, Dean (1987-10-05). "Committees Work A Little And Spend A Lot". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
- "FBI seizes files as Chicago aldermen oust oversight". illinoispolicy.org. 17 November 2015. Archived from the original on 7 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- "Report: Aldermen Got $282,000 in Illegal Campaign Contributions in 2013". wttw.com. Archived from the original on 18 November 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- "More than half of Chicago aldermen took illegal campaign cash in 2013". chicagonow.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- Chicago City Council
- Chicago City Council legislation from the City Clerk of Chicago
- Chicago City Council calendar from the City Clerk of Chicago
- Journal of the Proceedings (c. 1981–present) from the City Clerk of Chicago
- Journal of the Proceedings (c. 1908) from Google Books
- Chicago City Council meeting reports from the City Clerk of Chicago
- Map of Chicago Wards
- Your City Council: Who's who and what they can do from the Chicago Reader
- The Untold Stories of Alderman Don Parrillo by Anthony DeBartolo, Hyde Park Media
- Chicago City Council archive at the Chicago Reader