State Rep. Lamont Robinson (right) will be the next 4th Ward alderperson after defeating Prentice Butler in the April 4 runoff. Credit: Provided

KENWOOD — Rep. Lamont Robinson will be the next 4th Ward alderperson after defeating Prentice Butler in Tuesday’s election to replace Ald. Sophia King.

With all 28 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Robinson held 66.5 percent of the vote to Butler’s 33.4 percent.

The ward includes parts of South Loop, Bronzeville, Kenwood and Hyde Park.

Robinson’s team surprised him Tuesday night with a video presentation of friends and family congratulating him.

“Tomorrow starts a new day in the 4th Ward to continue to build on the seeds that have been planted and also to water some new seeds,” Robinson said. “Today we celebrate, tomorrow the work begins.”

A local DJ spun old school hip-hop and R&B tunes as Robinson’s scores of supporters — including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — joined the alderman-elect in an event room inside Hyatt Place Hyde Park, 5225 S. Harper Ave., where the lawmaker thanked his team for their efforts shortly before being surprised with a video presentation of friends and family congratulating him.

After Robinson’s speech the DJ resumed playing as partiers danced to Cajmere’s “Percolator” and watched the rest of the election night returns.

Robinson thanked Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and King for “planting the seeds” for the 4th Ward to grow, adding that he hopes to create a community for kids like his cousin who “should be able to play with their friends in a safe environment.”

King gave up her City Council seat to mount an unsuccessful bid for mayor. Robinson will be sworn in on May 15.

It was a crowded, contentious race with six candidates competing for King’s seat, including Butler, her chief of staff.

Several challengers backed Butler in the days leading to the runoff, accusing Robinson of embellishing his involvement in saving Mercy Hospital and being a machine candidate handpicked by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Former candidate Ebony Lucas filed a defamation lawsuit against Preckwinkle, Robinson and the 4th Ward Democratic Organization last month.

Robinson has represented the 5th District since 2019 and was elected to his current term in November. His district overlaps with much of the 4th Ward, including parts of the Near South Side and Bronzeville.

Robinson, who made history as the first openly LGBTQ Black member of the Illinois House, was endorsed by Gov. JB Pritzker, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Preckwinkle — herself a former 4th Ward alderwoman.

Robinson thanked his team, who raised $700,000 from donors across the country, including Atlanta, Detroit, and California.

“I am again honored, honored because there were some seeds that Toni Preckwinkle planted 20 years ago around affordable housing and economic development. I plan to build on that work”

Robinson, who was reelected to his post as 5th District state representative in the fall, announced he’d be running for King’s seat around the same time, saying that his state legislature experience would benefit the 4th Ward.

Lamont Robinson attends the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bronzeville Lakefront development at the Prairie Shores building on March 29, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

As a state legislator, the Clark Atlanta University alumnus has focused on jobs, housing and other resources for the LGBTQ community, securing $15 million in state funding for a community center on the South Side. He plans to prioritize economic development once he’s in office, saying he believes public safety issues could be remedied by strengthened commercial corridors.

Robinson told Block Club in March that public safety, education and economic development are his top priorities and plans to take a multiagency approach to all three, relying on private and public partnerships — along with community involvement — to get things done.

Robinson said collaborative, multiagency approach to public safety is best. He told residents at a January candidate forum he believes in supporting violence prevention organizations doing the work.

Robinson said he’s spoken with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to get more officers in the area for hot spots like Robinson Elementary, a well-known spot for drug activity. He said he’s also reached out to University of Chicago and Illinois State Police for similar reasons.

“I understand that there are challenges, but there are other departments we can be leaning on to ensure we live in a safe community. That’s something that, on the sidelines, I haven’t seen happen. As the next alderman of the 4th Ward, I’m going to continue to be aggressive,” Robinson said.

Robinson also wants to see “more investment” in the Invest South/West program and more small business support for entrepreneurs who want to expand, he said. Another item on Robinson’s agenda would be creating a Bronzeville Chamber of Commerce to bring in additional resources and spur more community engagement, he said.

Robinson said he wants to strengthen block clubs, adding that he’ll be meeting residents “where they are” — physically and virtually.

Noting the disparities between parks and schools in the northern end of the ward versus the southern end, Robinson said he plans to lean on the Park District and Chicago Public Schools to do their part to equitably invest in community facilities while using menu money to address the gaps — with the input of his constituents.

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