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South Chicago, East Side

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza Won’t Seek Reelection After 2 Terms Representing Southeast Side

Sadlowski Garza is the ninth sitting council member resigning or retiring. She is the first Chicago Teachers Union member elected to City Council.

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) smiles at a City Council meeting on June 25, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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EAST SIDE — Another alderperson is leaving City Council in 2023, as Southeast Side Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) announced Monday she will not seek a third term.

Sadlowski Garza, the first Chicago Teachers Union member elected to City Council, said in a statement it’s time for her to step back from being an elected official and “take care of my family and myself.”

“I will always hold this experience and the 10th Ward in my heart, but it is time for me to move onto the next chapter of my life. As a result, I will not be seeking a third term as alderperson,” she said in the statement.

Sadlowski Garza’s is joining a slew of colleagues who have resigned, will retire or will seek higher office in the 2023 elections.

RELATED: Here’s A Full List Of City Council Seats Likely Up For Grabs In 2023

The decision is an abrupt about-face for the alderperson, who told Block Club in August she planned to run again. Óscar Sanchez, a Southeast Side youth organizer who participated in a 30-day hunger strike protecting General Iron’s effort to move to East Side, announced his challenge to Sadlowski Garza in mid-August.

The daughter of prominent union activist Ed Sadlowski, Sadlowski Garza grew up on the Southeast Side. She became a Chicago Public Schools counselor at Jane Addams Elementary, where she attended school, and CTU vice-president, according to her online bio. She was among the union leaders who protested then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school closing plan and joined the picket line for the 2012 teachers strike.

Sadlowski Garza ran for City Council in 2015, challenging four-term incumbent John Pope. She forced Pope into a runoff and prevailed by only 20 votes, with Pope dropping his bid for a recount. She became the first woman to represent the 10th Ward.

“A lot will be said about the legacy of Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, but let’s be clear: There is no ‘mighty CTU’ without her passion, her courage and her sheer will in advocating for our students, their families and every school community in which we work and live,” union leaders said in a statement.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who count often count on Sadlowski Garza as an ally in City Council, praised the alderperson during a news conference Tuesday morning.

“She has given the full measure of her being to her ward, to her community and to the city of Chicago for 31 years,” Lightfoot said. “She gives everything 1,000 percent. … Now, she’s gonna give her family 1,000 percent and not share herself with others.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks with Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) at a City Council meeting where alderpeople voted on the 2022 budget, on Oct. 27, 2021.

In her statement, Sadlowski Garza said her biggest achievements as alderperson include improving connecting infrastructure within and between Southeast Side neighborhoods, launching or bringing back neighborhood events such as Hegewisch Fest and the East Side Labor Day parade, bringing new bike lanes to the area, bringing more attention to local attractions like Big Marsh Park and the redevelopment of the old Republic Steel property in Hegewisch into a massive industrial park.

“Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the 10th Ward is on track to a new future, reclaiming our former vacant brownfields for new jobs and development,” Sadlowski Garza said.

Sadlowski Garza also said she was proud of the city’s efforts to support laborers, like passing the fair workweek and wage theft ordinances, raising the city’s minimum wage before the rest of Illinois, implementing laws to protect domestic workers and securing $1 million in settlements for Burger King and Mondelez workers who were victims of wage theft.

“I am proud of all the work we have done and all the projects we have accomplished during the eight years I’ve been alderwoman,” Sadlowski Garza said in the statement. “During the next nine months, I will continue to work diligently on projects and issues that are put before me. There is more work to be done and more projects that are currently underway, and I know that when my term ends next May the 10th Ward will continue to advance.”

Sadlowski Garza joins a Great Resignation that sets up a massive shakeup inside City Hall next year.

Longtime Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) announced Aug. 30 he’s retiring after 19 years serving Lakeview. Days earlier, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) announced she will not seek reelection after 24 years representing Hyde Park. Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) resigned in August after 11 years because of “deepening responsibilities toward family and friends.” 

Alds. Harry Osterman (48th), James Cappleman (46th) and Carrie Austin (34th) have also said they will step down in 2023.

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) won his primary bid for a Cook County Board of Review seat and also will step down from City Council.

Other seats also could change hands next year include those of Alds. Raymond Lopez (15th), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Sophia King (4th) as they challenge Lightfoot for the top perch. Candidates can collect signatures for mayor and alderperson but they can only appear on one ballot, according to election rules.

Alds. Michael Scott (24th) and Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) also left their seats earlier this year. Lightfoot appointed Monique Scott to replace her brother in the West Side ward, and Nicole Lee to replace Daley Thompson following his conviction for income tax fraud. Lee announced last week she is vying to keep her seat in the election.

The mayoral and aldermanic elections are Feb. 28.

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