There aren’t many nays heard in the chambers of the Chicago City Council.
That’s clear from looking at the analysis of council voting records put together by Dick Simpson (pictured) and his research team at UIC. The poli-sci professor (and former 44th Ward alderman) keeps an ongoing tally of so-called divided roll call votes—votes in which at least one alderman votes against the majority.
These instances are pretty rare. Since the current council term began in 2003, only 45 out of hundreds of votes have failed to be unanimous–on average there’s less than one a council meeting. Just 13 of the divided votes had more than five dissenting aldermen. Toni Preckwinkle, alderman of the Fourth Ward, has shown the most independence, voting with Mayor Daley 55 percent of the time. She’s followed by Third Ward alderman Dorothy Tillman and the 20th Ward’s Arenda Troutman, at 63 and 65 percent, respectively—though it should be noted that each took Daley’s side on the big-box minimum wage ordinance and, more significantly, skipped the vote on a resolution calling for the Daley administration to stop fighting the Shakman decree in court. With a 70 percent score, 28th Ward Alderman Ed Smith is the only other council member who sided with Daley less than three-fourths of the time.
On the other end of the list: 43rd Ward alderman Vi Daley, agreeing with the mayor 90 percent of the time; 14th Ward alderman Ed Burke and 29th Ward alderman Isaac Carothers, both at 93 percent; and James Balcer, alderman of the mayor’s old 11th Ward, who sided with Daley 95 percent of the time.