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Big Changes In Store For City Council

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Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicagoans will also go to the polls Tuesday to elect an alderman.

Of the city’s 50 wards, 43 of them have contested races.

In the 24th ward on the West Side, it’s hard to imagine all of the names will fit on the ballot.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports we expect a lot of new faces at City Hall, not to mention new power struggles over tax dollars and negotiations with a new mayor.

The 24th Ward on the city’s West Side has enormous problems. Residents there demand an alderman who can solve them.

“Somebody who’s going to do something about all these abandoned lots around this neighborhood,” Carl Sawyer explains.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs — the people are crying for jobs,” one woman said.

High unemployment. High poverty. It’s enough to give any politician headaches. Yet look at all the candidates running for alderman in this ward alone: 18 altogether, including the incumbent.

This year, in other communities as well, a lot of people want to go to the city council.

“There are going to be battles in every part of the city,” says Dick Simpson, chairman of UIC’s political science department.

He predicts Chicago will ultimately have 20 new aldermen, the biggest turnover since the 1970s, when he was in the city council.

“I expect to see what I call council struggles, or council battles — not Council Wars,” Simpson said.

In other words, there will be no racial divide as in the days of Mayor Harold Washington, but disputes over the budget.

“Does some of this money go to schools? Does some of this money go for other city services? That’s a big pool of money over which there will be a fight,” Simpson said.

In the 24th Ward, residents like Renaldo Chapman doubt anything will change.

“Every alderman comes here and says they’re going to do this. Look at these vacant lots,” he said. “Homeless people. No jobs. And they keep saying vote. Vote for you for what? So you can just make a paycheck?”

Well, no matter what their motivation, the next group of aldermen will also have to negotiate a relationship with the new mayor.

The current city council is often accused of being Mayor Daley’s rubber stamp, but members have gone along with Daley because he’s largely given them what they want.

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