Lightfoot’s approach to mayorship shakes up dynamics in City Hall

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CHICAGO — Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot is promising to reorganize the power dynamics of City Hall, and while change is coming to City Council, aldermen are still trying to figure out what it will look like.

After decades of mayoral rule, Lightfoot wants a strong council with a weak mayor in Chicago, hoping a new power dynamic could end insider dealing and corruption.

"They need to listen to what the voters have said in their ward and across the city. We have a big broad mandate for change and change is coming," Lightfoot said.

Alderman Raymond Lopez predicts more aldermanic input, debate and discussion in City Council, as well as new alliances.

"It’s going to be a shifting paradigm here in the City Council. You have a lot of new members coming with a lot of new ideological backgrounds let alone new neighborhoods, new representations, and I think alliances are gonna change depending on whatever the topic is gonna be," Lopez said.

New power dynamics are also leading to new fights over who gets committee chairmanships. Veteran aldermen like Ed Burke seem to by vying for control over the chairmen selection process.

"It is a very — in the way that they’re setup now they’re semi-lucrative because you can hire people and put them in positions," said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd ward) said. "What we need to do again is restructure. Everybody needs to get on board with the fact our structural problems in the City Council are ethics problems have to be gutted out."

Lightfoot vows to end the practice of so-called aldermanic privilege, which gives aldermen veto power over actions concerning their wards. Still, long-serving members like Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward) want it keep it.

"Aldermanic privilege is something that the community really embraces. You don’t want somebody from downtown telling us what’s best for our community, especially when they have elected a local representative to represent the best interest of our community," Beale said.

Still, one longtime alderman said an executive order to end aldermanic privilege won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.

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