After today, it looks like three more incumbent aldermen will be up for election in February. But Darcel Beavers, Michelle Harris, and Lona Lane will have just two months to tell their constituents how hard they work at serving them.
The three were officially confirmed as aldermen at today’s City Council meeting, filling the vacancies created when 7th Ward alderman William Beavers was elected to the Cook County Board, Eighth Ward alderman Todd Stroger was elected to the board presidency, and 18th Ward alderman Thomas Murphy was elected to a county judgeship. Each of the new aldermen will probably have to defeat several opponents to stay in office. But the mayor–after consulting with each of the three wards’ Democratic committeemen, in line with Chicago tradition–moved to name replacements anyway. More than two-fifths of Chicago’s current aldermen were initially appointed by Daley.
While signing off on the new picks, sitting aldermen offered up plenty of praise–much of it highlighting themselves and their own work ethic.
“This is indeed a wonderful day when we can welcome friends into the council,” Sixth Ward alderman Freddrenna Lyle (pictured) said in support of Darcel Beavers, who’s worked with Lyle for years while serving as chief of staff for her father, William. “She knows as much about this council as anyone. Many people who seek these jobs have no idea how difficult and time-consuming they are.” So far, three Lyle challengers have submitted ballot petitions to the Chicago board of election commissioners.
Two candidates have filed to face Third Ward alderman Dorothy Tillman, who said of Darcel Beavers, “To those who say this is nepotism and she doesn’t deserve her job–this is one young lady who knows. She knows her ward and she knows its people. A lot of people want to come here, but they don’t know how the job works. They don’t know how hard it is.”
Harris, a former county employee and product of the Stroger family’s Eighth Ward Democratic organization, was greeted with similar campaign speeches hidden as pledges of support. “I congratulate you on your appointment,” Burton Natarus, the 42nd Ward alderman, told Harris. “But I think in six months you’ll wonder why you did it. It’s a lot harder than people think.” One challenger has petitioned to run against Natarus.
Aldermen admitted they didn’t know Lane as well as the others. But the fact that she’d worked in Murphy’s office went a long way. “My staffers usually say they would never, ever want to do this job,” said 19th Ward alderman Virginia Rugai, who will have to beat back at least two opponents.
Forty-fifth Ward alderman Patrick Levar wasn’t around to offer his thoughts. To hold onto his seat in February, Levar will have to stave off an energetic campaign from Terrence W. Boyke Jr., once his top staffer.