Chicago Ald. JoAnn Thompson dies | WBEZ
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Chicago Ald. JoAnn Thompson dies

Chicago Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th) has died from sudden heart failure.

Thompson missed a debate last weekend for medical reasons. At the time, her campaign manager said the alderman had undergone a medical procedure but her prognosis was good. 

Thompson's ward covers Englewood and Gage Park on the city's South Side.

The alderman's chief of staff, Debbie Blair, said Thompson died surrounded by her family, friends and "lots of love from the greater Englewood community which she served with devotion to her final day." Thompson was 58.

Thompson was known by many for her recent efforts to bring a Whole Foods to Englewood, raise the minimum wage, and neighborhood initiatives like the 16th Ward Festival on 63rd street.  

South Side Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) knew Thompson before her City Council days, and he says even though he didn't side with Emanuel as often as Thompson did, the two council members found ways to work together.

"Sometimes, we had to work, like we called it an inside outside game. But we were fighting for the same thing. She was working internally within the constructs of the administration, I would work as a fighter on the outside, but we were working for the same cause," Sawyer said.

Others remember her as a "genuine" and "honest" leader.

"I would say the alderman was a litmus test. It was either yes or no with her. And that's good, because you didn't have anything between. She was very straightforth with her opinions, she was very honest with her opinions," said Glen Fulton, President of the Greater Englewood CDC.

Thompson was in a heated election battle with 15th ward Ald.Toni Foulkes. Foulkes is a member of the progressive caucus, whose ward was shifted in the remap. She's faced some attacks from a pro-Emanuel PAC.

Today, Ald. Foulkes said she was "deeply saddened" to hear of Thompsons's death.

"We worked together as members of the Black Caucus on many important policy initiatives since we were both elected in 2007," Foulkes said in a statement. “I admired her fierce commitment to the constituents and communities of the 16th Ward."

Members of the Black Caucus said "today is not a day of politics" and celebrated Thompson as an "exceptional alderman, member of the Black caucus and most of all, a fighter for her community."

Thompson was born on the South Side of Chicago.


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