KENWOOD — At a Monday night forum, voters in the 4th Ward had almost as many criteria for aldermanic candidates as there are people thinking about running for the job in a 2017 special election.
Approximately 50 4th Ward residents, mostly from Kenwood and Hyde Park, gathered Monday night at Room 43, 1043 E. 43rd St., to talk about the qualities they want in their next alderman as list of possible candidates eyeing the position grows to approximately 10.
Ald. Will Burns (4th) abruptly announced his resignation on Feb. 1 for a job at AirBnB, opening the door for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make an interim appointment until a special election can be held in February 2017.
Members of the group on Monday said they hoped to set the tone of the conversation for who would take the seat representing portions of the South Loop, Kenwood and Hyde Park.
“If we could see who would align with us, what would we get?” said Gabriel Piemonte, one of the organizers of the forum.
As small groups debated economic justice, better relationships with the 5th Ward and transparency, by far the one subject mentioned most, likely candidates listened.
Tracey Bey, who challenged Burns in the 2015 election, said she would run again as she sat with a group talking about economic development.
Also there was Gregory Livingston, a community activist who has called for Emanuel’s resignation and who also recently filed all the necessary paperwork to run with the state.
LaKeisha Hamilton, an education and anti-violence activist, is also planning a run for the position.
Ghian Foreman, executive director of the Greater Southwest Development Corp., said he was also considering running.
An estimated 10 people are actively soliciting support or filing the necessary paperwork for an eventual run for the aldermanic seat.
The field of contenders is only expected to grow in the coming days as the mayor announces the commission that will advise him on appointing an interim alderman.
One person who won’t be running is perennial candidate Norman Bolden, owner of Room 43 and Norman’s Bistro.
Bolden sat out much of the conversation Monday night, but showed up to lock the doors and said he won’t be running this time.
He said the stress of campaigning and the expense were too much and he wasn’t going to consider running.
Bolden said he expected the campaign to be difficult with a large field of candidates and one candidate would be hobbled by the appointment by the mayor, which he said he thought wouldn’t play well in the 4th Ward this time.
The mayor and Toni Preckwinkle, the 4th Ward committeeman, have not yet given any indication of who they will support, which has lead to wild speculation that anyone from Kim du Buclet, who filled Burns’ state representative seat when he became alderman, to Burn’s pastor, the Rev. L. Bernard Jakes of West Point Missionary Baptist Church, could be waiting in the wings.
Emanuel will have 60 days to appoint an interim alderman after Burns steps down on March 1.
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