Illustration by Mell Montezuma

What’s Happening in the Wards? Aldermanic Response to COVID-19

Checking in with South Side aldermen on their responses to COVID-19

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City Council meetings have moved online; ward offices are (generally) closed. The April 24 vote to grant Mayor Lightfoot emergency spending powers sparked bitter debate. So what exactly are South Side aldermen up to right now? How are they responding to the COVID-19 crisis in their wards? We did a little research. Find your alderman at sswk.ly/FindAld.

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3rd Ward: Pat Dowell

Washington Park, Grand Boulevard, and parts of Bronzeville and the South Loop

Earlier in April, Dowell co-hosted a virtual town hall with local, county, state, and federal elected officials about the impact of COVID-19 on Black communities. She also helped sponsor a new ordinance that would require all Chicago residents to wear face masks or cloth facial coverings in public. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Dowell keeps a resource list at ward03chicago.com and sends regular newsletters with updates. Her office is closed, but her staff can be reached at (773) 373-9273 or ward03@cityofchicago.org. She voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance.

4th Ward: Sophia King

Kenwood and parts of Hyde Park, Bronzeville, and the South Loop

King has been sending out updates to ward residents through email and social media, including information on stimulus check payments, health guidelines, and meetings she’s participating in. With Alderman Hairston, King recently participated in the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference’s virtual community forum—a stream of the event is available on the HPKCC’s Facebook page. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. You can also connect with her office by calling (773) 536-8103 or sending an email to ward04@cityofchicago.org. She is a cosponsor of two bills from Alderman Matt Martin that would provide rental relief and mortgage forbearance for Chicago residents. King voted against the emergency powers ordinance. 

5th Ward: Leslie Hairston

Parts of South Shore, Hyde Park, and Woodlawn

Hairston has been updating residents through her ward newsletter and social media, primarily her Facebook page. On April 28, Hairston hosted a virtual ward meeting for residents. With Alderman King, Hairston recently participated in the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference’s virtual community forum—a stream of the event is available on the HPKCC’s Facebook page. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Contact her office at (773) 324-5555 or via the form on her website at lesliehairston.com. Hairston voted against the emergency powers ordinance. 

6th Ward: Roderick Sawyer

Park Manor and parts of Grand Crossing, Chatham, and Englewood

Sawyer’s office is sending out a newsletter every other week with information about food pantries, social distancing, and other resources and updates. He closed his ward service office in mid-March, though residents can still access it through email (service@6ward.com) or the phone—leave a voicemail at (773) 635-0006. Sawyer voted against the emergency powers ordinance. 

7th Ward: Gregory Mitchell

Parts of South Shore, South Chicago, Calumet Heights, and Jeffrey Manor

Mitchell’s usual newsletter has included information about social-distancing and health guidelines, as well as local food banks, small business relief, and other resources for people in his ward. Mitchell voted against the emergency powers ordinance. 

8th Ward: Michelle Harris

Avalon Park, Burnside, and parts of South Shore, Grand Crossing, Chatham, and Calumet Heights

Harris has been updating residents over social media, primarily on her Facebook page, as well as through a newsletter with information about senior shopping hours, tenants’ rights, small business grants, and other resources. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. She closed her ward office on March 19, but residents can still get in touch through email (michelle.harris@cityofchicago.org) or phone, at (773) 874-3300. Harris voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance during the full City Council meeting. 

9th Ward: Anthony Beale

Pullman, Riverdale, Altgeld Gardens, and parts of Roseland and Chatham

Beale has been updating residents through his Facebook page, and sent out a newsletter with a comprehensive resource guide, as well as information about testing at hospitals on the South Side. His ward office is closed, but residents can get in touch through email (ward09@cityofchicago.org) or phone, at (773) 785-1100. Beale has announced that he wants to use his ward funds to buy protective masks from businessman and former mayoral/presidential candidate Willie Wilson—according to a press release from his office, Beale and Wilson spent Sunday afternoon handing out free masks in Pullman. Beale, a frequent critic of Lightfoot, voted against the emergency powers ordinance during the full City Council meeting. 

10th Ward: Susan Sadlowski Garza

East Side, Hegewisch, and parts of South Chicago and Jeffrey Manor

Sadlowski Garza announced in late March that one of her staffers had tested positive for COVID-19 and that all employees would be working remotely Monday through Friday during regular business hours. She has a ward resource guide, and her social media streams and newsletters provide regular updates, like the cancellation of the Easter egg hunt, and a tutorial on how to make a face mask. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Her office can be reached at three numbers, (773) 768-8138, (773) 768-8174, and (773) 768-8175, and by email at ward10@cityofchicago.org. Sadlowski Garza voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance.

11th Ward: Patrick Daley Thompson

Bridgeport, Canaryville, and parts of Pilsen, Back of the Yards, and University Village

The last update to the 11th Ward website’s appears to have been in 2018, but Thompson’s office is keeping constituents informed about COVID-19-related issues and regular ward business via Facebook and Twitter. It’s unclear whether his ward office is closed; calls to (773) 254-6677 routed to a generic voicemail account. Per an April 22 Facebook post, previously scheduled alley resurfacing projects are proceeding as planned. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Thompson voted for the emergency powers ordinance.

12th Ward: George Cardenas

McKinley Park and parts of Back of the Yards and Little Village

Cardenas spoke in a mayoral press conference, along with 22nd Ward Alderman Michael Rodríguez, to announce an executive order stating that undocumented immigrants were eligible to apply for COVID-19-related city relief programs, as established in the sanctuary city ordinance. His office is printing CPS packets for free, donated face masks to local police departments, and co-hosted a Latino Caucus virtual town hall and an environmental webinar. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. They can be reached at (773) 523-8250 or ward12@cityofchicago.org. Cardenas called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to provide free internet access citywide and also voted in favor of granting her emergency powers.

13th Ward: Marty Quinn

Clearing and parts of West Elsdon, West Lawn, and Chicago Lawn

Quinn said his office is providing yard signs to residents to show support for first responders and that he is facilitating delivery of computers to students who need them at home. His staff has contacted residents via phone calls, text messages, and mailers. The ward office is keeping regular hours, and can be reached at (773) 581-8000 or ward13@cityofchicago.org. Quinn voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance. 

14th Ward: Ed Burke

Parts of Archer Heights, Gage Park, West Elsdon, Brighton Park, and Garfield Ridge

The long-serving, still-under-indictment alderman of the 14th Ward voted against granting emergency powers to the mayor. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Calls and emails to his ward office at (773) 471-1414 and ward14@cityofchicago.org were not returned.

15th Ward: Raymond Lopez

Parts of Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, and West Englewood

On Monday, Lopez announced that an employee was diagnosed with COVID-19 and his offices would close until May 1. They can be contacted at (773) 823-1539 and (773) 306-0837, and at ward15@cityofchicago.org. The alderman posts religious services and acknowledgements of fallen officers on social media, and his husband made nearly 200 face masks to distribute to vulnerable residents. In early April Lopez said that liquor stores in his ward voluntarily agreed to shut down at 5pm every day. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. He has vocally opposed expanding mayoral powers and voted against it.

16th Ward: Stephanie Coleman

Parts of Englewood, West Englewood, and Back of the Yards

Through her ward website 16thward.org, Coleman is offering COVID-19-related resources such as tips on how to safely shop for groceries and how to make a no-sew mask out of a t-shirt or bandana. She maintains a weekly newsletter that has included know-your-rights information for workers, food pantry listings, and other ward resources, encouraging people to “spread the word not the virus.” Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Her staff can be reached at (773) 306-1981 or by email at info@16thward.org. Coleman voted against the emergency powers ordinance.

17th Ward: David Moore

Parts of Chicago Lawn, Auburn Gresham, and Englewood

Moore’s staff is keeping regular office hours remotely, and are even “more so” responsive to constituents’ issues at this time, his chief of staff JeVon Moore wrote in an email. Although he is not hosting virtual ward nights, his office is making calls to and distributing PPE to seniors in the ward as outreach, and has fielded  questions, largely about requesting PPE or food. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. His communications with ward residents has taken the form of robo-calls, social media, and his newsletter, which can be subscribed to by emailing alderman@17ward.com or calling (773) 783-3672. The 17th Ward and surrounding wards have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, and Moore with other aldermen held a press conference to emphasize its deadliness to their constituents. Moore voted against the emergency powers ordinance.

18th Ward: Derrick Curtis

Ashburn and parts of Chicago Lawn

In partnership with the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, Curtis reportedly spent the afternoon of Friday, April 24, handing out free masks and gloves in the parking lot at 2043 West 79th Street. Auburn Gresham has been one of the community areas hardest hit by COVID-19, and the alderman took part in that neighborhood’s city-convened Racial Equity Rapid Response virtual town hall on April 25, at which he noted he has lost both a cousin and friend to COVID-19. The ward office’s phone number is (773) 284-5057; its email is ward18@cityofchicago.org. Curtis voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance. 

19th Ward: Matt O’Shea

Beverly, Mount Greenwood, and parts of Morgan Park

Following a March 25 breakfast he helped serve at the Original Pancake House in Beverly to employees of Oak Lawn’s Advocate Christ Medical Center, O’Shea started a GoFundMe page to raise money for meals for front-line health care workers. On April 14, O’Shea used some of the donations to distribute 1,900 meals to police stations and detective divisions on the Southwest Side. The alderman told WGN his 19th Ward Youth Foundation, which is the beneficiary of the fundraising drive, was also delivering meals to hospitals and fire stations. As of Monday, the page had raised more than $136,000. The ward office phone number is (773) 238-8766. O’Shea voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance. 

20th Ward: Jeanette Taylor

Parts of Woodlawn, Englewood, Washington Park, and Back of the Yards

Taylor has been updating residents through her newsletter, website, and social media with information and resources. She is a member of the Right to Recovery coalition, a group of legislators, unions, and community groups calling for a comprehensive legislative relief package to help vulnerable groups during the pandemic. Most recently, the alderman’s office is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Taylor has been critical of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s rental relief initiative, and called for the Chicago Housing Authority to use any vacant units as housing for homeless people. She is also a cosponsor of two bills from Alderman Matt Martin that would provide rental relief and mortgage forbearance for Chicago residents. Taylor voted against the emergency powers ordinance. 

21st Ward: Howard Brookins Jr.

Brainerd and parts of Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, and Roseland

On April 24th and 28th, Brookins, along with other local politicians and business leaders, passed out masks at locations in the ward. His ward office is providing food drop-offs to seniors in the community during the COVID-19 shutdown. Residents can call (773) 881-9300 to schedule food delivery, or email their name, address, and phone number to ward21@cityofchicago.org. Calls and emails to his ward office by the Weekly were not returned. Brookins voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance. 

22nd Ward: Michael Rodríguez

Parts of Little Village, North Lawndale, and LeClaire Courts

Rodríguez and his office are ensuring damage control after receiving harsh criticism for not warning residents of a demolition that enveloped his ward with potentially toxic dust. His office is closed, but staffers can be reached at (773) 762-1771 and ward22@cityofchicago.org. Prior to that, Rodríguez spoke in a mayoral press conference, along with Ald. George Cardenas, to announce an executive order stating that undocumented immigrants were eligible to apply for COVID-19-related city relief programs, as established in the sanctuary city ordinance. He voted against extending emergency powers for Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

23rd Ward: Silvana Tabares

Parts of Garfield Ridge, Clearing, West Elsdon, West Lawn, and Chicago Lawn

The ward office has suspended walk-in hours, but is staffing phone and email requests during regular hours. Tabares said her staff is phone-banking and text messaging residents and has used social media and a weekly newsletter to keep them informed. She added that she is working on an ordinance that would grant “Line of Duty” designation to deceased first responders and extend benefits to their families. Her ward office can be reached at (773) 582-4444 or ward23@cityofchicago.org. Tabares voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance. 

24th Ward: Michael Scott Jr.

Parts of North Lawndale and Little Village

Scott supported the mayor’s 9pm curfew on liquor stores earlier this month, and questioned the governor’s decision to close schools for the remainder of the school year. He voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance. Calls and emails from the Weekly to his ward office at (773) 533-2400 and ward24@cityofchicago.org were not returned.

25th Ward: Byron Sigcho-Lopez

Chinatown and parts of Pilsen, McKinley Park, the South Loop, and the West Loop

Sigcho-Lopez has a ward-based resource guide at 25thward.org/covid19 and keeps his offices open Monday–Friday, though they are only accepting calls, not walk-ins. Residents can contact the office at (773) 523-4100 and ward25@cityofchicago.org. Staffers are printing learning packets for CPS students and delivering care packages to senior facilities, and the alderman frequently appears in webinars. The office also recently launched a Family Emergency Fund and is distributing face masks donated by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. Their Facebook feed and website includes information in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. Sigcho-Lopez is a proponent of #RightToRecovery relief and voted against emergency powers for the mayor.

34th Ward: Carrie Austin

West Pullman and parts of Roseland and Washington Heights

The longtime alderman said in a statement that she has closed her physical office with the intention of reopening in May, while her staff is working from home and addressing constituent concerns from there. “Most pertinent information” is posted on Austin’s Facebook page. “Our response has been constituent-focused [and] partnership based,” the statement reads. You can leave a voicemail message at (773) 928-6961; the outgoing message at this number gives information on hours and locations of neighborhood food pantries and hot meal resources. Austin voted in favor of the emergency powers ordinance.

Update, May 3, 2020: This piece has been updated to include recent face mask donations.

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