Mayor Emanuel Announces Application Process For 4th Ward Alderman

As we move towards the primary election on March 15th, the residents of Chicago’s 4th Ward will be dealing with the concern of who will be their next Alderman? Since the announcement of Alderman-elect, Will Burns’ resignation at the top of the year–it came to no real surprise. The University of Chicago graduate has been called out at times as an ‘outsider’ who doesn’t serve the needs of long-time Bronzeville residents and has been accused of favoring neighbors East of Drexel and South of 47th St.

However, his five years in office will credit his involvement in supporting the economic development to the 4th Ward including the new Mariano’s on 31st St. and the redevelopment of new businesses on 51st and 53rd St. in Hyde Park–including the Whole Foods Market. 

On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a public process to identify a potential replacement for Alderman Will Burns to serve and represent the residents of Chicago’s 4th ward. Burns will move on to the private sector–accepting a position as Midwest Policy Director and Senior Advisor. He exits his city council seat on March 1. 

As has been done in the past to select a replacement for open aldermanic seats, any resident of the ward will be able to apply through an open and comprehensive process, and a committee of local leaders will help determine the finalists.

Starting Friday, February 26 at 9 am, residents of the 4th ward who are interested in applying for the vacancy can submit an application online by visiting Applications will be accepted through Friday, March 4 at 5 pm.

Mayor Emanuel has also appointed a committee with community representation to review the applications submitted, as well as interview candidates by phone or in person, if necessary. They will then deliberate and recommend three suitable candidates to the Mayor.

The members of the committee are:

  • Reverend Dr. Richard Tolliver, St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church
  • Bonnie Sanchez, Near South Planning Board
  • Paula Wolff, resident of Kenwood
  • Bill Lowry, resident of Hyde Park
  • Alderman Michelle Harris

Reverend Tolliver will serve as Chair of the committee.

Mayor Emanuel will announce the selected candidate by April 29, 2016. The new Alderman is expected to be sworn in at the May 18 City Council meeting. Because at least 28 months will remain in the aldermanic term when the vacancy occurs, a special election for the seat will be held in February 2017.

About the committee: 

Rev. Dr. Richard L. Tolliver

Rev. Dr. Richard L. Tolliver is a Kenwood resident and has been the pastor of St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church since 1989. In November 1990, he founded the St. Edmund’s Redevelopment Corporation (SERC), a not-for-profit community development corporation devoted to revitalizing the housing stock of Washington Park, the neighborhood in which the church is located.  He currently serves a member of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks as well as the Low Income Housing Trust Fund.  

Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson
For 26 years, Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson has worked for the Near South Planning Board, which plans, guides and encourages a program of development for the area while creating, supporting and promoting a thriving business district. In 2003, she became the first Hispanic woman to serve as its Executive Director. She is a member of the Lambda Alpha Ely Chapter Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics and serves on the Illinois Comptroller’s Hispanic Advisory Board. She has been a charter member of the Rotary Club of Chicago Near South for the past 13 years and serves as an Assistant District Governor.

Paula Wolff


Paula Wolff is Director of the Illinois Justice Project, a civic organization developing and implementing policy initiatives and programs to reform the criminal justice system by addressing youth trauma and reducing youth and adult violence, crime and incarceration. Previously, she served as Senior Executive at Chicago Metropolis 2020 and Metropolis Strategies, where she led the Justice and Violence Group, which was the predecessor to the Illinois Justice Project. She serves on numerous boards, including the University of Chicago, the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Joyce Foundation, and Ariel Investment. She has also chaired the Illinois Tollway and the City Colleges of Chicago Board. 

Bill Lowry

William A. “Bill” Lowry is a Kenwood resident and career attorney serving as Managing Shareholder for Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie, & Lowry, PC. He specializes in the areas of Workers’ Compensation defense and employer liability, and has been licensed as an attorney since 1988 by the Northern District of Illinois and the State of Illinois. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Chicago and Cook County Bar Associations and the Economic Club of Chicago. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Governors of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and on the Board of Trustees of Lake Forest College. Lowry also serves as Vice-Chair of the Illinois Capital Development Board.

 Alderman Michelle Harris

Alderman Michelle Harris serves as Chairman of the Chicago City Council Committee on Rules, Committees and Ethics. She has a long-standing history of community involvement, stemming from the influence of her parents, who were stewards of their neighborhood. She has been Alderman of the 8th ward since December of 2006. Prior to that, she served in a variety of capacities serving the public. From Chief of Staff to an Alderman, to Streets and Sanitation Ward Superintendent to the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Harris has found success employing her strong community roots, and excellent work ethic.

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