South Side candidates vie to succeed departing King in 4th Ward, oust appointed Lee in 11th Ward

With Ald. Sophia King running for mayor instead of reelection, six candidates are hoping to replace her in the 4th Ward. In the 11th Ward, appointed Ald. Nicole Lee faces six challengers.

SHARE South Side candidates vie to succeed departing King in 4th Ward, oust appointed Lee in 11th Ward
Fourth ward candidates (clockwise from top left) Prentice Butler, Ebony D. Lucas, Helen West, Tracey Bey, Lamont Robinson and Matthew “Khari” Humphries.

Fourth ward candidates (clockwise from top left) Prentice Butler, Ebony D. Lucas, Helen West, Tracey Bey, Lamont Robinson and Matthew “Khari” Humphries.

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One ward offers a completely open City Council seat, left vacant by a woman hoping to be elected mayor, the other a seat filled by an incumbent appointed by the mayor just last year.

And both South Side wards have attracted a crowded field of candidates, like so many other contests this year.

The race in the 4th Ward — covering parts of the South Loop, Museum Campus, North Kenwood, Bronzeville and Hyde Park bordering Lake Michigan — heated up with the decision of incumbent Ald. Sophia King to run for mayor.

The nearby 11th Ward, which encompasses parts of Bridgeport, Armour Square, Chinatown, Canaryville and East Pilsen, is a similarly tight race.

Incumbent Ald. Nicole Lee wasn’t elected to the role. She was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and confirmed by the full City Council last year when Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson was forced to resign after being convicted of tax fraud.

Across the two wards, 13 candidates are hoping to be sworn into the next iteration of Chicago’s City Council. Six have thrown their hats in the ring to replace King, while another six are trying to unseat Lee, who is facing voters for the first time since taking office last March.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) speaks during a mayoral forum last month.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) speaks during a mayoral forum last month.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Candidates need a majority to win outright on Feb. 28. If no one achieves that, the top two candidates in the ward face off in a runoff on April 4.

In both wards, most candidates cited crime and public safety as a main concern for residents, like voters across much of the city. But other issues are intertwined with crime, and several candidates pointed to supporting small businesses and economic development, education and youth opportunities and affordable housing as areas for improvement.

4th Ward: South Loop, Bronzeville, Kenwood

In the 4th Ward, Democratic state Rep. Lamont Robinson is looking to shift to local politics and bring his experience at the state level home. A Chatham native, Robinson worked to save Mercy Hospital from shutting down, which would have left the area near 26th Street and Michigan Avenue in need of health care options.

The ward needs “responsible economic development,” said Robinson, 40, vowing to make “sure that the community has a say, that we’re bringing in businesses that the community wants.”

Robinson has received the endorsement of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

He leads the race in fundraising, having collected more than $340,000, while the next-closest challenger, Ebony Lucas, has just surpassed $96,000. The other candidates have raised far less.

Detroit native Lucas, 46, is a former teacher and lawyer who has run for the seat twice before. She said that despite the diversity of the ward, the communities have identified a common issue.

Fourth Ward candidates (clockwise from top left) Prentice Butler, Ebony D. Lucas, Helen West, Tracey Bey, Lamont Robinson and Matthew “Khari” Humphries.

Fourth Ward candidates (clockwise from top left) Prentice Butler, Ebony D. Lucas, Helen West, Tracey Bey, Lamont Robinson and Matthew “Khari” Humphries.

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“People in the South Loop have the same issue as the people in Bronzeville, have the same issue as people in Hyde Park, which is that we don’t have access to a quality neighborhood high school,” she said.

The ward is home to five high schools, but only two — Wendell Phillips Academy and Dunbar Vocational Career Academy — aren’t selective enrollment or magnet, and those lack resources, Lucas said.

Matthew “Khari” Humphries, 48, an activist and organizer focused on youth development, and Prentice Butler, 42, King’s chief of staff, both identified first responders as an issue to tackle.

Humphries said he is concerned about the average time it takes for first responders to get to the scene of a crime, and Butler told the Sun-Times first responders could help with issues related to mental health in the area.

Also running are education administrator Helen West, 69, and banker and real estate broker Tracey Bey, 51.

11th Ward: Bridgeport, Armour Square, Chinatown

Lee hopes to hold on to her seat on the Council, but she recognizes she will have to fight for it.

With experience as a United Airlines executive, Lee, 48, is a lifelong resident of the ward and the first Chinese-American member of the Council.

“Crime and safety is the biggest priority for most of us that are in these jobs today, and I think for everybody,” she said. “It’s a crowded field, and I take nothing for granted.”

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Eleventh ward aldermanic candidates (clockwise from top left) Elvira “Vida” Jimenez, Froylan “Froy” Jimenez, Steve Demitro, Nicole Lee and Ambria Taylor. Not shown are candidates Don Don and Anthony Ciaravino.

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Froylan “Froy” Jimenez, a 46-year-old Chicago Public Schools civics teacher and member of the Chicago Teachers Union, said the city and the ward both lack strong leadership. He said his experience in schools gives him a unique perspective, and he would prioritize proper training for anyone involved in public safety.

He also vows to seek input from constituents on issues affecting the ward.

Ambria Taylor, 35, is also a former CPS teacher. She identified herself as the “only progressive choice in a very crowded field,” and said she believes her neighborhood is “hungry for a progressive choice.”

Taylor vows to take on corporations, seek to decrease pollution and prioritize participatory budgeting.

Also running in the 11th Ward are accountant and product developer Elvira “Vida” Jimenez, 65; lawyer Steve Demitro, 60; firefighter Don Don; and police officer Anthony Ciaravino.

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