A community activist who has been calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation wants to be Chicago’s next 4th Ward Alderman.
Gregory Livingston filed the necessary paperwork with the state Thursday to form a campaign committee, and said he intends to run for the seat that will be vacated by Ald. Will Burns on March 1. Earlier this month, Burns announced he would leave the 4th Ward seat for a job at AirBnb. The mayor will appoint an interim aldermen to serve the ward until a special election is held on February 27. 2017.
Livingston, who is founder of the Coalition for a New Chicago, said he wasn’t planning on running for alderman, but when his friend told him Burns was resigning, he figured he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He said the fallout from the city’s handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting shows the Chicago needs new, independent leadership.
“I’m not part of that establishment, I’m not part of that political cabal as it were,” he said, “I think you have to have someone who is courageous enough and fearless enough to be able to stand up.”
Last month, Livingston led protests at a breakfast honoring Martin Luther King Jr. hosted by the mayor. During the last mayoral election, he ran Willie Wilson’s campaign. Given his background, Livingston said he realizes the odds that Emanuel will choose him aren’t in his favor. He plans to run in the special election next year, even though he thinks it should be held this November to save taxpayers’ money.
If elected, Livingston said he wants to work with the “big dogs” of City Hall, like Finance Chairman Ald. Ed Burke and Ald. Pat O’Connor, who currently serves as the mayor’s floor leader.
“I wanna be Ed Burke’s mentee, I wanna be Pat O’Connor’s mentee, I want to get with the big boys, with those 47-year, tenured aldermen, because they’re the guys who know how to bring in all this big money for the city,” he said. “Let me hang with those big dogs and so I can learn the ropes and find out how they do it so successfully.”
The mayor’s office will be posting an application for interested candidates on the city’s website. After Burns’ resignation, Emanuel’s office said he’d appoint a commission of ward community members to screen those applicants, who would then submit finalists for Emanuel to choose from for the interim appointment.
Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian.