Timmy Knudsen. Credit: Knudsen for 43rd website

LINCOLN PARK — Timmy Knudsen, chair of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, has been chosen by the mayor to serve as the 43rd Ward’s new alderman, replacing Ald. Michele Smith who retired in August.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the appointment of Knudsen Monday evening. She previously named him chairman of the Zoning Board in 2020. His nomination is headed to the City Council Rules Committee on Tuesday before going to the full City Council for a vote Wednesday.

If approved, Knudsen will serve the rest of Smith’s term, which ends in May. He’s already announced his campaign to run to keep the seat after that.

Knudsen is the third alderman Lightfoot has appointed this year, following Ald. Nicole Lee (11th) to replace convicted Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson and Ald. Monique Scott (24th) to replace her brother, Ald. Michael Scott.

“Timmy Knudsen has singled himself out as an exceptional leader in the 43rd Ward community,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “His passion for connecting with his neighbors and encouraging hope, energy and opportunity for Chicago residents makes him uniquely situated to serve as alderman.”

Timmy Knudsen was appointed 43rd Ward alderman by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Credit: Timmy Knudsen for 43rd Ward campaign

Knudsen, who’s spent the last several years living in Old Town and Lincoln Park, was part of Lightfoot’s 2019 campaign finance team. He’s also a partner at Croke Fairchild Morgan & Beres, although he’s been on a leave of absence since July 27, according to its website.

In his legal role, Knudsen has counseled start-up companies, founders and their investors, according to Lightfoot’s office.

He also founded the pro-bono practice at his law firm, which represents LGBTQ asylum seekers in Chicago and Tijuana, Mexico. He’s given legal services to more than 40 asylum seekers through this work, according to Lightfoot’s office.

“As I have throughout my legal career, my public service chairing the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals and my time as a grassroots organizer, I will be an advocate and consensus builder as alderman,” Knudsen said. “I bring a passion for private sector results to public service and am honored to have a new way to give back to the community I call home.”

Knudsen launched his campaign for 43rd Ward alderman six weeks ago, and has spent that time gathering hundreds of signatures and meeting with residents at Oz Park, over coffee and by knocking on doors, according to a statement Knudsen released Monday.

Knudsen highlighted public safety, schools and communication as key issues he’d address as alderman. He promised to immediately look to invest aldermanic menu dollars into public safety initiatives.

“Neighbors have told me that they want an alderman who will fight for public safety and public schools, foster open dialogue and champion local community leaders and organizations every step of the way,” Knudsen said. “As alderman, I will work every day to answer that call.”

Knudsen also received support from prominent LGBTQ community leaders, including activist Art Johnston, co-founder of the Illinois Federation for Human Rights (Equality Illinois) and owner of Sidetrack.

“Knudsen is a leader who has been on my radar for years due to his consistency in showing up to do the unglamorous work and his championing of others in doing so,” Johnston said. “Timmy has a rare skill in making all kinds of people believe more in themselves, and I am so happy this day has come where he is seeking public office.”

Knudsen was also endorsed by the Victory Fund, a political action committee dedicated to increasing LGBTQ representation in government. He would be the first openly gay representative of the 43rd Ward.

“Knudsen’s visibility as an out gay man pairs with his proven leadership ability — qualities that will serve ward residents and the entire Chicago City Council,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of Victory Fund. “His service in the role will give queer youth a role model in the halls of government, inspiring other LGBTQ leaders and leaders to-be at all levels of government.”

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