Chicago Mayor pressed to appoint zoning chair 

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa resigned from appointment after a contentious meeting

Chicago Mayor Eric Johnson Pressed to Appoint Zoning Chair
Mayor Brandon Johnson, Alderman Bennett Lawson and Alderman Daniel La Spata (Getty, Bennett for 44th, 1st Ward)

Mayor Brandon Johnson is taking his sweet time in choosing a new Zoning Committee chair, frustrating council members as zoning and development issues arise in Chicago.

Johnson has been pressed to replace Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who resigned from his role as zoning chair on Dec. 1, following a contentious special council meeting in which he tried to physically stop Alderman Emma Mitts from joining. 

As pressure mounts to fill this crucial role, three candidates are vying for the job: Aldermen Daniel La Spata, Andre Vasquez and Gil Villegas, Crain’s reported

The committee’s vice-chair, Alderman Bennett Lawson, has temporarily chaired meetings in Ramirez-Rosa’s absence. City Council must vote on a new chair, leaving the position vacant until at least a February meeting. 

La Spata, who’s one of Johnson’s allies, believes the mayor needs to have a heightened sense of urgency given the limited amount of time to address zoning and development issues in the city.

“It disappoints me that we don’t have a permanent chair yet, because we don’t have time to be waiting on the consideration and passage of these policies,” he told the outlet.

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Ramirez-Rosa’s resignation stemmed from his actions during a November meeting that centered on the revision of Chicago’s sanctuary city status. In addition to physically stopping Mitts, Ramirez-Rosa allegedly threatened to block developments in three other colleagues’ wards. Some council members speculate that Johnson is holding out hope for Ramirez-Rosa’s return after the situation blows over. 

The Latino Caucus wants a Latino to remain chair of the committee, but that would limit the pool of candidates. The five members of the Latino Caucus are either too inexperienced or conservative for Johnson’s progressive agenda, the outlet said.

If Vasquez is chosen as Ramirez-Rosa’s replacement, he would aim to streamline the development process and remove certain barriers that often hinder developers. 

Villegas, meanwhile, argues that he would help Johnson “expand his network of allies” if chosen, while utilizing his experience with zoning as an “economic development tool.”

—Quinn Donoghue 

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