Tough decisions about Chicago’s growing financial crisis will have to be addressed in short order by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council, which gained 13 new aldermen on Monday.
Many of the new aldermen opposed Mayor Emanuel during the election.
Representing the 31st Ward, Milly Santiago beat 24-year council veteran Ray Suarez. She is thinking of joining the Progressive Reform Caucus, a growing group that often opposes the mayor’s agenda.
“There’s a lot of things I like from the Progressive Caucus,” Ald. Santiago says. “Things that I stand for, like being transparent, accountability.”
Also planning to join the Progressive Caucus is the council’s youngest new member, 26-year-old Carlos Ramirez-Rosa from the 35th Ward.
“I’m going to make sure that every single policy is being scrutinized, I will not vote for any parking meter deal, I will not have my eyes closed while voting,” Ald. Ramirez-Rosa says.
Ramirez-Rosa is also expected to join the council’s first Gay Caucus. The city’s first openly gay alderman, Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward, says despite the different groups within the council, he doubts the alignments will be so rigid…
“I think the real issue is going to be financial status moving forward and it’s hard to be progressive when trying to figure out where revenues are going to come from,” Ald. Tunney says.
Many Rahm loyalists and progressives are open to a casino. A property tax hike is something talked about only as a last resort. While much of the city’s financial mess has been blamed on past policies, two new council faces are tied to Mayor Richard M Daley: nephew Patrick Daley Thompson in the 11th Ward and Michael Scott, Jr., son of the late school board president Michael Scott, in the 24th Ward.
“My father always talked about moving boulder up the mountain as his turn every time he got a new position,” Ald. Scott Jr. says. “So it’s just my turn to move boulder up the mountain.”
“I’m looking at trying to come up with solutions and working with mayor and my colleagues on City Council,” Ald. Thompson says.
Mayor Emanuel has already met individually with each of the new City Council members, and while the Progressive Caucus is growing it is still not big enough to derail the mayor’s agenda.