Crusader staff report
The political race for 4th Ward alderman heated up on Monday, January 30 when former President Barack Obama endorsed Sophia King, a rare move for an ex-commander in chief to get involved in city politics.
Voters in the 4th ward will go to the polls on February 28 to choose a new alderman out of five candidates running to replace Will Burns, a former Obama aide who abruptly resigned last February to accept a job with the travel accommodation company Airbnb.
In addition to King, the other 4th Ward candidates are attorneys Ebony Lucas, Gerald Scott McCarthy and Marcellus Moore Jr. Activist Gregory Seal Livingston is also running for the position. The winner will serve out the remaining two years left by Burns when he resigned.
The race has been relatively quiet since it began, but with Obama’s endorsement, campaigns have intensified as the race enters its final months of campaigning. Fresh from leaving the White House, it’s the first political move Obama has made since President Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office January 20.
“Michelle and I have known Sophia many years as a leader dedicated to improving her community,” Obama said in a statement Monday that was released by King’s campaign. “Over the years, Sophia has worked to make neighborhood schools and communities better. Sophia is the type of leader Chicago and the 4th Ward needs.”
This is the second time Obama endorsed a political official in his hometown state. During the primary lastMarch, Obama endorsed Julianna Stratton as she ousted longtime State Representative Ken Dunkin.
This time around, Obama is throwing his weight behind a candidate in Chicago politics. Leading in campaign contributions, King has strong support from several Black aldermen. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her interim alderman after Burns left the post in March. She also has the support of 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who served as 4th Ward alderman from 1991 to 2010.
Two of King’s opponents, Livingston and McCarthy have expressed their disappointment about the endorsement in news reports. Livingston said the endorsement is a sign of weakness and that supporters are not confidant that King can win on her own. McCarthy said Obama should have “stayed out of it and let the people decide.”
King and her husband are also friends of the Obamas, whose mansion in Kenwood is located in the 4th Ward. The $500 million Obama Presidential Center will be located in Alderman Leslie Hairston’s 5th Ward in Jackson Park.