Chicago still without a zoning chair, Mayor Johnson feeling the heat

Position has been vacant since Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa resigned in December

Pressure Mounts for Chicago Mayor to Appoint Zoning Chair

From left: Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Mayor of Chicago Brandon Johnson and Alderman Bennett Lawson (Getty, Bennett Lawson)

The clock is ticking for Mayor Brandon Johnson to appoint a permanent leader for the Zoning Committee, which has been in disarray for six months.

Council members have been urging Johnson to replace Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who resigned from his role as chair of the influential committee on Dec. 1, following a contentious special council meeting in which he tried to physically block Alderman Emma Mitts from joining. 

Johnson recently met with members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus to discuss potential solutions, Crain’s reported. One proposal on the table involves swapping the committee chairs of two allies, Ramirez-Rosa and Byron Sigcho-Lopez, both of whom have faced criticism from colleagues. However, the feasibility of that plan remains uncertain, as Johnson’s ability to enact such a reshuffle is in question.

Despite several council members vying for the position in the interim, Johnson has yet to make a definitive appointment. The mayor’s office has explored strategies to install Sigcho-Lopez as the chair of Zoning while retaining Ramirez-Rosa in leadership on another committee.

Ramirez-Rosa has actively sought support to retain his chairmanship, defending himself against allegations and emphasizing his desire to continue serving in a leadership capacity. However, opposition from some council members, including Mitts, who has expressed reluctance to support his return as zoning chair, although she has accepted Ramirez-Rosa’s apology for past incidents and voted “no” on a failed effort to censure him. 

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Johnson has defended Ramirez-Rosa, labeling him a valuable ally and asserting his authority to make committee appointments, but dissenting voices within city council persist.

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Johnson’s previous commitment to appoint a Latino chair for the Zoning Committee further complicates the situation, as he navigates alliances within the Latino and Black caucuses to secure support for his proposed reshuffle.

With no immediate resolution in sight, the Zoning Committee remains under the interim leadership of Alderman Bennett Lawson. While Lawson offers experience and a willingness to collaborate, his selection faces challenges due to concerns over representation and progressive credentials.

—Quinn Donoghue