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Bridgeport, Chinatown, McKinley Park

Ald. Nicole Lee, Chicago’s 1st Chinese-American Alderperson, Announces Bid To Keep Her Seat

Lee, the second Asian American to serve on the City Council, was appointed in March to replace Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson following his conviction for tax fraud.

Ald. Nicole Lee (11th) speaks at a City Council meeting on June 22, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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BRIDGEPORT — Ald. Nicole Lee (11th) launched her campaign Wednesday to represent Chinatown, Bridgeport and parts of McKinley Park for the next four years.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed Lee to the seat in March to replace former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson after he was convicted of income tax fraud. She is the second Asian American to serve on City Council, following former Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th).

The Whitney Young and Indiana University alumna kicked off her campaign with a video announcement on YouTube, in which she shared her vision for the 11th Ward.

“Serving the community I call home has been an incredible honor, and I am running because I know there is still so much more work to do,” Lee said. “I’ve lived in the 11th Ward my entire life and am raising my two sons in the house my family has lived in for four generations. I know the people, the businesses and the organizations that make these neighborhoods so special.

“The 11th Ward deserves someone who will listen to their concerns and take action on the issues they face, and I’m ready to keep up the fight to build safer and better resourced neighborhoods across our community.”

The former United Airlines executive has volunteered with several organizations, including the University of Illinois Chicago Asian American Advisory Council, the Asian Giving Circle, OCA Chicago, the Chinese Mutual Aid Association and the Chicago Dragon’s Athletic Organization.

Lee has also been front and center on efforts to bring an open-enrollment high school to the Near South Side, making it top priority for her administration. The school would serve parts of Chinatown, Bridgeport, Amour Square, Bronzeville and the South Loop.

But the effort has been controversial, as the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Schools inked a deal to build the high school on a portion of the former Harold Ickes Homes near 24th and State streets. The land is being redeveloped into the Southbridge mixed-income development, which will include 877 apartments and retail space. 

Some South Siders have objected to the city using land set aside for low-income housing for the school, and they have raised concerns the school would worsen segregation in the area. Others support the school but have pushed back against the proposed location, pushing CPS to consider other spots, like the The 78 megadevelopment.

Despite the concerns and two tense community meetings this month, Lee thas said she hopes to find a solution for all involved.

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