CHICAGO — Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith is stepping down from her role in the 43rd Ward.
Smith announced Thursday she will resign Aug. 12, writing in a newsletter to constituents that she has “deepening responsibilities towards family and friends.” She has been the 43rd Ward alderperson for 11 years.
“I love this community and want to thank you for the support you have shown me throughout the last eleven years,” Smith wrote. “Your great ideas, feedback, constructive criticism, participation, and warm greetings encouraged me in every decision I made.
“As I’ve often said, every improvement ever made in our community started with neighbors, and I’ve been proud to help many of these dreams come true.”
Smith’s plan to resign means Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be able to appoint a replacement — who must be cleared by the City Council — for the months before February’s City Council election. Lightfoot’s recently been able to appoint two other alderpeople: Nicole Lee in the 11th Ward and Monique Scott in the 24th.
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Smith was elected to the 43rd Ward in 2011 and won re-election bids in 2015 and 2019. The ward covers most of Lincoln Park and includes portions of other Near North Side communities.
Smith said the 43rd Ward has been “recreated … as a new neighborhood crossroads with activities, public space and new shops and restaurants.” The tony Lincoln Park neighborhood is known for being a wealthier enclave with trendy bars and a mix of families and nightlife.
Smith said one of her goals we to keep families in Chicago by investing in schools; in Lincoln Park, she pushed for a $25 million addition to Lincoln Elementary and infrastructure upgrades for Lincoln Park High School.
Smith also successfully pushed for metal scrapper General Iron to stop operating in Lincoln Park. This week, federal officials criticized the city for helping General Iron leave Lincoln Park, a majority white area, and set up on the Southeast Side.
More recently, Smith has pushed for police to crack down on crime in the neighborhood, which has seen a spike in carjackings and armed robberies, as well as high-profile and sometimes violent beach parties.
Before being elected, Smith served as a federal prosecutor in Chicago and worked for private companies. She has lived in the community since 1979, becoming a “professional, a mother and now a grandmom,” she wrote in her newsletter.
“My whole life has been bound up in our tree-lined streets,” Smith wrote.
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