Who Will Replace Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson in 11th Ward?

It’s a stunning turn in the Daley dynasty.

The nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and the grandson of Mayor Richard J. Daley, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson will have to resign his City Council seat given his convictions Monday for lying to the IRS and filing false tax returns.

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He has not yet stepped away from the seat he has held since 2015.

An administrator who answered the phone at his 11th Ward office Tuesday told WTTW News he had no statement, just that she personally wishes Daley Thompson and his family well.

Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward) said he is sad and stunned, calling Daley Thompson a “generous man” who the IRS would have worked with rather than prosecuted had his name been John Smith.

“His fault was being a hard worker, overwhelming himself with work to make a good life for his family,” Sposato said. “I said he got royally screwed and I meant that in a bunch of ways. Royally screwed because of what his name is and royally screwed because he’s an alderman.”

Once Daley Thompson does resign, Mayor Lori Lightfoot will have 60 days to appoint a successor.

Sposato says for the sake of continuity, he believes she should appoint one of Daley Thompson’s ward employees, who vows not to run for the job in next year’s election.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward) says an Asian American should get the appointment.

Even as the City Council has struggled to draw a new ward map as the Latino and Black caucuses are at loggerheads over divvying up power, there’s consensus that a new 11th Ward should have a majority of Asian American residents.

Villegas says there’s no need to wait for 2023 for Asian American representation on the council.

“Right now, Illinois’ population increased a little bit and had it not been for the Latino community and the Asian community, Illinois would have lost two congressional seats (after the 2020 census) instead of one. And so as a result of that, we need to make sure that that representation is reflected in its elected officials,” Villegas said.

Local Asian American leaders hope to have a voice. Grace Chan McKibben, director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, said the mayor should choose the best qualified person, someone who understands the community.

“Lived experience is part of that understanding, and so someone who does have the experience of being an Asian American or understands the experience of being an Asian American definitely helps. In this particular situation, symbolism is also important,” she said. “We’ve been pushing for a 50%-plus Asian American ward because Chicago’s Chinatown is the only growing Chinatown, or often touted as the only growing Chinatown in North America, and so other cities are watching us. And to be able to have an Asian American alderperson representing this particular ward is significant.”

Ambria Taylor is a middle school CPS teacher and Chicago Teachers Union member who’s lived in Bridgeport for a decade who said the Daley Thompson verdict is huge.

“The stronghold of Daley has kind of narrowed down to the 11th Ward, right. That legacy kind of ends here. And you know he’s been toppled now. I think that marks a huge change for the ward. I think we’re at a crossroads right now,” Taylor said.  “I am so hopeful that we are going to seize it and that we are going to make this ward a place that is transparent, that collaborates with people, that doesn’t rally up hate in order to try to strengthen that hold on power.”

Taylor this October had announced a campaign to run for the 11th Ward seat in next year’s election.

She told WTTW News she is not vying for the appointment, though she said she would have to consider it if offered the position; she said she believes in democracy and wants to earn the job and will not be put off even if whoever is appointed becomes her competition.

“I was ready to run against a Daley and I’m sure he was ready to be able to throw everything he has at me, which I’m sure would be a lot,” Taylor said.

Thompson’s not the only sitting council member in trouble with the law; Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward)_ and Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward) are also under indictment.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward) knows what it’s like to take over a ward in turmoil.

Before he won election in 2019, the his ward was represented by Danny Solis, who faded from public view in disgrace after it came out that he cooperated with the FBI, apparently part of a deal to evade punishment for misusing campaign funds.

“As a representative who inherited a very, very tough job … Mayor Lightfoot has to be vocal on every single case and not look at this in terms of political expediency, but what is best for 11th Ward residents,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “Not only for the temporary appointment but to ensure that the …11th Ward matters until the end of the term will be taken with the highest levels of integrity and responsibility.”

Sigcho-Lopez said even if Daley Thompson is known to some colleagues as a “nice guy,” elected officials have to act with integrity.

He’s troubled that there’s still no independent watchdog, even as the former Inspector General announced in July he would be leaving in October, meaning the post has now been vacant for four months.

“In the case of the inspector general, proper oversight and accountability in city council is more urgent than ever, that’s why it still continues to be a concern that we still have not seen the type of transparency that Mayor Lightfoot campaigned on,” he said.

The mayor’s office didn’t respond this afternoon to a request for an update on the appointment process; in an earlier statement she promised it would be open and transparent.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

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