Voters lose when City Council members resign and mayor hand-picks successor

The decision not to serve out a complete term and allow mayoral appointment of a successor is a game of musical chairs and distorts democracy.

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Members vote to keep the speed-camera ticket threshold at 6 mph over the posted speed limit on July 20 during a Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall.

A City Council meeting to vote on the speed-camera ticket threshold, July 20.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The recent announcements by several Chicago City Council members that they will not seek another term is somewhat surprising. But what is noteworthy is the methods they chose to announce their exits from public service.

One one hand, several alderpersons decided to leave office only several months before their term expired and allow the mayor to appoint their successor. This is clearly a ploy to circumvent voters having a choice, and gives a leg up to whomever the mayor appoints, who will have a noticeable head start in the municipal elections as an incumbent.

The decision not to serve out a complete term, and give someone the benefit of mayoral appointment late in the remaining term of office, is a game of musical chairs that is all too common in Chicago. It distorts democracy.

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Another legal but unethical trampling of democracy is the tradition of incumbents running for re-election, then resigning shortly afterwards, allowing party leaders to appoint the official of their choosing. Our city’s ethics laws should prevent such abuse of appointments that take away power from the voters.

On the other hand, the retirement announcement of Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) was admirable and speaks volumes not only to his commitment to the communities he serves, but as a worthwhile example to other politicians. He did not seek to hand off power to his family or cronies. Rather, he announced he would not run for re-election, leaving plenty of time for democracy to work as intended.

It’s no wonder voters are disillusioned and apathetic, with a system that is accustomed to hand-picked successors chosen by political insiders, which limits the chance for others to run for office. Huge praise is due to Osterman for his public service and for upholding civic principles on exiting public office without tricks — respecting the voice and choice of area residents.

Froylan Jimenez, Chicago Public Schools civics teacher

We must speak out against hate

I was in disbelief, angered and deeply saddened by the hateful attack on the UpRising Bakery and Café in Lake in the Hills. Once again, hateful speech and misinformation from a minority of people resulted in destruction of property and violence against a targeted group. Historically we’ve seen hate fueling destruction over and over again.

1871: In Los Angeles, rumors that Chinese were killing whites resulted in whites and Hispanics attacking Chinese residents and over 30 lynchings.

1921: Fears of Black success in Tulsa resulted in a white mob attacking Black residents, killing hundreds, destroying over 1,500 Black-owned homes, businesses, and churches. 

1938: In Germany, misinformation about Jews resulted in “Kristallnacht”, a night of Nazis’ burning and looting of synagogues, homes, and businesses, killing nearly 100 Jews. 

Each voice that speaks out for the UpRising Bakery and Café is hope. The voices of leaders like Rep. Sean Casten, who unequivocally states that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights and who speaks out to support the love and self-confidence of the LGBTQ+ community, amplify hope.

We need to speak out with strong voices online, with our patronage, and at the ballot box by voting for representatives  and at the ballot box by voting for representatives like Casten, Lauren Underwood, and Bill Foster who lead with love and hope.

Bruce Lane, Cary

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