Obama-Backed Candidate Wins 4th Ward Special Election | WBEZ
Skip to main content


Obama-Backed Candidate Wins 4th Ward Special Election

Appointed Ald. Sophia King, who drew an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, easily won a 4th Ward special election Tuesday night.

King beat four other opponents for the City Council seat that represents several South Side neighborhoods close to Lake Michigan, including Hyde Park, Bronzeville, Grand Boulevard, South Loop, Printer’s Row and Kenwood. 

“This is surreal,” King told a room of a few dozen supporters. “This (has) never, ever been about me. It’s been about us and what we can do for our community.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed King to serve as interim alderman when the seat was left open by former Ald. Will Burns, who resigned about a year into his second term to take a job with the home-sharing company Airbnb. 

Unofficial election results Tuesday night showed King winning handily, with nearly 64 percent of the vote in the low-turnout special election.

“We truly have a treasure here in the fourth ward," she said. "We have a long beautiful political tradition, mostly independent tradition which I hope to pick up and revive."

The 4th Ward aldermanic seat has served as a political stepping stone in the past. Among its former aldermen are Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Timothy Evans, now Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. 

King is the founder and president of Harriet’s Daughters, a nonprofit that works to eliminate wealth and employment inequities. She’s also close friends with the Obamas, who used to live in the ward. Shortly after leaving office, the president endorsed King, saying she “has worked to make neighborhood schools and communities better. Sophia is the type of leader Chicago and the 4th ward need.”

Also on the ballot were real estate lawyer Ebony Lucas, attorney Marcellus H. Moore Jr., activist Gregory Seal Livingston and attorney Gerald Scott McCarthy.

The ward has 36,588 registered voters. Unofficial results from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners show 6,729 voters cast ballots, or about 18 percent of those eligible.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.