More than a dozen alderpeople are not seeking re-election to Chicago City Council. The sudden exodus is renewing calls to downsize the number of seats at City Hall.
Chicago has one of the largest city councils nationwide. Chicago City Council has 50 alderpeople, representing around 54,000 people each. That’s compared to 51 council members in New York City, each representing 173,000 people. Los Angeles has 15 council members with each member representing about 257,000 people.
“We are a huge outlier here in Chicago in terms of the size of our city council relative to the population that we hold,” said William Howell, director of the Center for Effective Government at the University of Chicago.
The large size of the council makes it difficult to address issues that cross ward boundaries and to govern with attention to the city as a whole, Howell said.
The exodus of alderpeople stepping down also presents an opportunity for younger, progressive members to shift the role of the job from administrative to more legislative, said Bryan Zarou, director of policy at the Better Government Association.
“I think this provides a phenomenal opportunity for grassroots movements to come in and really try to maneuver some of these younger progressives that are coming in to try to change the system,” said Zarou.