City Council turnover: More than a dozen members won’t seek reelection


CHICAGO — The list keeps growing as departures among City Council continue, all of which come as candidates for office circulate petitions.

On Wednesday, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st Ward) announced his plan to retire from City Council at the end of his term.

“I’ve accomplished a lot and I think it’s time,” Brookins said.

The son of former state senator, Brookins lost a bid for a judicial seat on the Cook County Circuit Court. Now he says he wants to spend more time focusing on his law practice. On his way out the door, Brookins is railing against dirty politics. 

“People lie to you all the time. Ambitious people will do and say a lot of things,” Brookins said. “I’ve always said, ‘if politics had a theme song, it would be Backstabbers by the O’Jays.’” 

On Sunday, Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza also announced she’s stepping down.

In all, six more alders are not running for reelection. Three members are leaving to run for mayor.  And three members departed earlier this year.

Political analyst and former alderman Dick Simpson spoke on the changing of the guard.

“This is partly a generational problem a lot of the aldermen have been there a long time,” Simpson said. “Brookins is one of them. It’s been a very hard time for aldermen with the COVID crisis.”

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she’s not surprised by the turnover.

“The great resignation didn’t pass us by,” Lightfoot said.

Privately, some members say it’s not just the pandemic, Mayor Lightfoot’s combative style has changed the job.

Lightfoot was asked if she might evolve during a second term.

“Look, I’m 60 years old, I’m not going to change who I am,” the mayor said. “I definitely will have and will continue to push people sometimes out of their comfort zone because that’s what our residents are demanding of us.”

As attention turns to the municipal elections, Congressman Jesus “Chuy” García is throwing his support behind various candidates.

“This is about the next generation of leaders,” García said.

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But as García works to pass the torch, he is mulling a return to Chicago politics as a candidate for mayor.

“I’ve got to decide soon, but I don’t want to pressure myself,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lightfoot, who wants a second term, got a boost today with an endorsement from departing Secretary of State Jesse White.

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