Wednesday's Chicago City Council Meeting Marks End of an Era

The members of City Council leaving by the end of this term had a combined 191 years in office

The meeting of Chicago's City Council on Wednesday marked the end of an era.

It was the final meeting over which Mayor Rahm Emanuel presided, as he will leave office in May when Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot is inaugurated.

First elected in 2011, Emanuel was honored with a resolution detailing his life, previous work and tenure in office. Among the highlights of the resolution were his time in former President Bill Clinton and former President Barack Obama's administrations, as well as initiatives he's touted as his chief accomplishments as mayor, like investments in early childhood education, corporate relocations to Chicago, increasing tourism and more. 

The reading of the resolution appeared to draw tears from Emanuel, who stood stoic save for a moment in which he reached up to wipe a tear from his cheek. As the resolution was read, his wife Amy Rule moved from the public section of the chamber to the VIP area. 

City Council members then stood individually to share their praise of Emanuel, with several aldermen growing emotional and shedding tears during their own speeches as well. 

It was an emotional day for Mayor Emanuel at his final city council meeting Wednesday. He won support for the much debated Lincoln Yards project and received tributes from the city council but he also broke down when discussing what it’s been like to visit children hit by gunfire. NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern reports.

The meeting was also the last for several aldermen who either chose to retire at the end of their term, or lost their bids for re-election.

Those who had previously announced plans to step down include 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis, 39th Ward Ald. Marge Laurino and 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar. 

Former 20th Ward Ald. Willie Cochran was also among those who have departed City Council this term, having resigned his seat, effective immediately, after accepting a deal to plead guilty to a felony charge of wire fraud on March 21.

Those who lost their campaigns for re-election include: 1st Ward Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno, 16th Ward Ald. Toni Foulkes, 31st Ward Ald. Milly Santiago, 40th Ward Ald. Pat O'Connor, 45th Ward Ald. John Arena and 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore.

Two aldermen returned to City Hall Wednesday unsure of whether it would mark their last time, as their runoff campaigns remained too close to call.

With the counting of late-returning mail-in ballots, 33rd Ward. Ald. Deb Mell was down by just 12 votes to challenger Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, while 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman was ahead of Marianne Lalonde by just 21 votes.

Without including Mell and Cappleman, but taking Cochran into account, the members of City Council leaving by the end of this term had a combined 191 years in office.

As the departing aldermen boast nearly two centuries of experience in Chicago government, the City Council inaugurated alongside Lightfoot will certainly look - and likely behave - differently come May.

Contact Us