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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

William Hall Declares Victory In 6th Ward Race To Replace Ald. Roderick Sawyer

With all 27 precincts reporting, Hall held 57.8 percent of the vote to challenger Richard Wooten's 42.1 percent. 

6th Ward candidate and South Side pastor William Hall.
William Hall/Facebook
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CHATHAM — William Hall is poised to succeed Ald. Roderick Sawyer as the next leader of the 6th Ward in Tuesday’s runoff election. 

With all 27 precincts reporting, Hall held 57.8 percent of the vote to challenger Richard Wooten’s 42.1 percent. 

“Celebration” by Kool and the Gang blasted over the speakers as 6th Ward residents gathered at St. Benedict the African Parish, 6550 S. Harvard Ave., to celebrate Hall’s victory. Plates were piled with steaming chicken and mostaccioli, and blue goodie bags with hand sanitizer and candy adorned the tables.

“I am overjoyed, overwhelmed and grateful for every volunteer and voter,” Hall said. “In the 6th Ward, we’re fighting for a safer community, greater schools, and thriving businesses.”

Sawyer, who has led the ward since 2011, gave up his seat in an unsuccessful bid for mayor. Hall will be sworn in at City Council on May 15.

Hall and Wooten beat nine hopefuls in a crowded February race to represent parts of West Woodlawn, Chatham, Park Manor, West Chesterfield, Grand Crossing, Auburn Gresham and Englewood.

Hall received 24 percent of the vote, while Wooten came in a close second with 23 percent. Since no one received at least 50 percent of the vote, the race went to a runoff. 

Hall and Wooten vowed to restore public safety in the 6th Ward in their campaigns. Boosting local economic growth, repairing community services and fully funding schools were also top-billed priorities. 

Hall, a Chatham resident for 38 years, has served as senior pastor at St. James Community Church for nearly a decade. Hall is also the director of faith and community partnerships for the child welfare advocacy group at UCAN Chicago, and a field director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition under Rev. Jesse Jackson.

In the “first 90 days” in office, Hall promised to organize a summit where members of the ward’s block clubs could “voice concerns and identify solutions.” 

Rather than increasing police in the ward to curb crime, Hall said he would work with the city to allocate funding to mental health centers and violence prevention groups in the community. 

Hall will also introduce “community therapy” in the 6th Ward, he said. Neighborhood sessions will function as a “means for people to discuss pains and fears they have together in a safe, non-threatening environment led by counselors that live in the ward who know how to do group therapy,” Hall said. 

Hall was endorsed by Gov. JB Pritzker, former state Sen. Roland Burris, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Ald. Roderick Sawyer. His campaign has more than $86,000 in contributions since December 2022. He led the way in 6th Ward campaign funds with about $36,000 from the Chicago Teachers Union and $53,000 from various affiliates of the Service Employees International Union. 

Wooten, a retired police officer, was born in Englewood and raised in Auburn Gresham. He now lives in Chatham and is the pastor at Gather Point Universal Ministries in Brainerd and the president of the Greater Chatham Alliance.

The 2024 election was Wooten’s third consecutive bid for the 6th Ward seat. He challenged Sawyer in 2015 and 2019. 

Wooten was endorsed by former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, community activist Andrew Holmes and Karin Norington-Reaves, the former CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, according to his website.

Wooten, who hosted his election party at Reggio’s Pizza in Chatham, said he was “still feeling great” despite Tuesday’s loss. He kept it simple with slices of sausage pizza as the votes rolled in, he said.

“I’m still committed to being who God made me to be: a servant at heart,” Wooten said. “I’m looking forward to seeing where the new 6th Ward is headed.”

Wooten hasn’t spoken to Hall yet, but he hopes the alderman-elect will spend his first days in office addressing public safety, he said. Wooten’s “first dedication is always to the people,” he said. If he can help Hall in any way, he will, he said.

“Public safety is the No. 1 problem across the city,” Wooten said. “Until we get that curtailed, there’s nothing else that’s going to be able to be accomplished in this ward.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) looks on at a City Council meeting on Dec. 14, 2022.

Sawyer announced in June he’d step down as alderman to run for mayor, aiming to follow in the footsteps of his father, Eugene Sawyer, who served as mayor after Harold Washington’s sudden death in 1987. The elder Sawyer had also served as alderman of the 6th Ward. 

Sawyer faced eight candidates in a crowded mayoral race and received 0.43 percent of the vote. Brandon Johnson won the mayoral seat Tuesday, beating competitor and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.

With nearly 12 years logged as alderman, Sawyer said he wasn’t sure what he’d tackle next in March. He’s been a lawyer for 33 years, and “finding ways where I can be of service” is a priority, Sawyer said. 

In March, Sawyer said he’d dedicate his final days in office to focusing on how he could be “helpful” in leading Vallas to victory. After April 4, “I’ll figure it out,” he said. 

Sawyer’s departing guidance for the next alderman is to “continue to engage with the community and make sure we get the resources necessary,” he said. 

Most importantly, they should remember, “Black people are not a monolith,” Sawyer said. 

“We don’t all think the same, and the next challenge for the next alderman is to bring together the diverse interests of the ward and make sure that they work on a common goal of making improvements,” Sawyer said. “A lot is happening in the 6th Ward, and I’m excited for the next person to go on and continue these efforts and bring in more investments.” 

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