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Where all 50 aldermen stand on renaming Lake Shore Drive for DuSable

6:22 PM CDT on June 18, 2021

Clockwise from ltop left: ordinance cosponsor Chris Taliaferro (29th), opponent Michele Smith (43rd), supporter Jeanette Taylor (20th), and Ray Lopez (15th), who says he will vote in favor of the name change.

This article was written by John Greenfield, incorporating research by James Porter.

The debate over whether to rename the outer lanes of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive for Black city founder Jean Baptiste Point du Sable has been going on for many months now, but it looks like the question may be resolved next week. Last month Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who's opposed, and allied aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Ariel Reboyras (30th) used a procedural move to block ordinance sponsor David Moore (17th) from calling a vote.

However, this week Moore filed a notice with the city clerk to say he's planning to call a vote at the next City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 23, at 10 a.m. Hopkins has said he won't interfere again. Moore says he's got the support for the legislation from more than half of the 50 alderman needed to pass DuSable Drive, and Streetsblog's research appears to confirm that – more on that in a minute. However, it doesn't look like he's yet got the 34 votes needed to override a possible veto by Lightfoot, although Moore told WBEZ he'd be "surprised if the she decided to make this her first veto."

Both a WGN News survey and a poll that Hopkins and fellow downtown alderman and DuSable Drive opponent Brendan Reilly commissioned for $12,000 found that about 59 percent of Chicago voters don't have a problem with renaming the shoreline highway, stating that they either support the change or don't have an opinion.

Bust of DuSable on Michigan Avenue. Photo: John Greenfield
Bust of DuSable on Michigan Avenue. Photo: John Greenfield
Bust of DuSable on Michigan Avenue. Photo: John Greenfield

However, there's a stark racial divide in who supports and opposes the change. The WGN survey found that of respondents with an opinion on the issue, 55 percent of Latinos, 57 percent of Asian-American / Pacific Islander individuals, and 61 percent of African-Americans are in favor of the name change. In contrast 66 percent of their non-Hispanic white counterparts are opposed.

Hopkins and Reilly's poll basically confirmed the racial discrepancy, showing that Latinos were 28 percent more likely to be in favor as non-Hispanic whites, and African Americans were about twice as likely to support DuSable Drive as whites.

Streetsblog contacted all 50 aldermen by email, phone, and twitter to ask their positions on the issue. I also gauged likely support from Moore's ordinance by who co-sponsored it, as well as their comments, actions, alliances, and ward demographics. So far my predictions have been correct in almost all cases, although I was wrong about Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) who often takes relatively conservative positions, but said he plans to vote for the change.

So far aldermanic support is largely mirroring the racial split among survey respondents. Most of the city's Black aldermen are cosponsoring and/or have announced their support for Moore's proposal. In contrast, of the five aldermen who have either declared or strongly indicated opposition, all but Reboyras are non-Hispanic whites.

Here's the rundown of confirmed or likely support and opposition, including the race / ethnicity of the alderman and racial / ethnic demographics of the ward. (In cases where a singe race / ethnicity makes up more than two-thirds of the population, I simply listed that group; otherwise, I provided a partial or full breakdown.)

By our tally there are 29 likely supporters, 14 likely opponents, and 7 tossups. That's enough to pass the legislation, but not override a veto by Lightfoot. this list will be updated as more aldermen make their positions clear.

Map of likely aldermanic support for DuSable Drive, along with the Racial Dot Map of Chicago. Left image: John Greenfield
Map of likely aldermanic support for DuSable Drive, along with the Racial Dot Map of Chicago. The 22nd Ward, where Alderman Michael D. Rodriguez is a confirmed supporter, has not been colored in yet. Click to enlarge. Left image: John Greenfield
Map of likely aldermanic support for DuSable Drive, along with the Racial Dot Map of Chicago. Left image: John Greenfield

1st Daniel LaSpata: Likely supporter, white

This Near Northwest Side ward is about 45 percent white and 43 percent Latino. (All demographic stats in this article are based on 2015 info.) LaSpata, a member of the City Council's Progressive Caucus, is the only Democratic Socialist alderman who has not yet announced his support, but appears almost certain to vote for the name change.

2nd Brian Hopkins: Opponent, white 

This mostly downtown and Near North Side ward is about 77 percent white. Hopkins has stated that he's opposed in part because a handful of residential buildings that are on Lake Shore Drive, but not on the inner drive, located between Ohio Street and the Chicago River, may have address issues due to the change, he told WBEZ. "To say they’re not affected by losing the roadway that their address is named after is just pure nonsense... It would have a profound impact to have your mailing address not reflect the road that you live on." I explored that argument at the end of this article.

3rd Pat Dowell: Likely supporter, Black

This Near South Side ward is about 65 percent Black.

4th Sophia King: Supporter, Black

This Near South Lakefront ward is about 65 percent Black. King, a member of the Progressive Caucus, is a cosponsor. "In this day of Black reckoning and really trying to understand our history and stand up to all of the racial barriers of the past, this would be a great time to say that Chicago is a diverse city and we celebrate diversity and we understand that it only makes us stronger," she told the Sun-Times.

She has slammed Lightfoot's counterproposal of $40 million in tributes to the Black pioneer (park, riverwalk renaming, annual festival, three monuments) as an alternative to the highway name change, estimated to cost upwards of $853,500. “To come up with [$40 million] to not rename Outer Lake Shore Drive … is kind of insulting," she told the Sun-Times. "It smacks of some of the same historical barriers. … It really highlights the inequity in this city.”

5th Leslie Hairston: Supporter, Black 

This Mid South Lakefront ward is about 64 percent Black. According to a Hyde Park Herald report, Hairston, who's a member of the Progressive Caucus, is a supporter.

6th Roderick Sawyer: Likely supporter, Black

This Mid South Side ward is about 98 percent Black. Sawyer, a member of the Progressive Caucus, is almost certain to vote for DuSable Drive.

7th Gregory Mitchell: Likely supporter, Black

This Far South Lakefront ward is about 92 percent Black.

8th Michelle Harris: Likely supporter, Black

This Far Southeast Side ward is about 97 percent Black.

9th Anthony Beale: Likely supporter, Black

This Far South Side ward is about 93 percent Black.

10th Susan Sadlowski Garza: Likely supporter, white

This Far Southeast Side ward is about 63 percent Latino, 18 percent Black, and 18 percent white. Sadlowski Garza is a member of the Progressive Caucus, and will almost certainly vote for the name change.

11th Patrick Thompson: Likely opponent, white

This Near South Side ward is about 37 percent white, 34 percent Asian, and 23 percent Latino. Thompson, a nephew of former mayor Richard M. Daley, represents the relatively conservative Bridgeport neighborhood.

12th George A. Cardenas: Unknown, Latino

This Mid Southwest Side ward is about 82 percent Latino. Cardenas is somewhat chummy with Reilly, one of the lead opponents.

13th Marty Quinn: Likely opponent, white

This Far Southwest Side ward is about 63 percent Latino and 34 percent white, including some conservative enclaves that went for Trump in the last election.

14th Ed Burke: Opponent, white

This Far Southwest Side ward is about 80 percent Latino. Burke, who helped lead the racially charged opposition to Chicago's first Black mayor Harold Washington, and who was recently recorded by federal agents making anti-Jewish remarks, pushed back against the proposal during multiple Committee on Transportation and Public Way meetings.

15th Raymond Lopez: Supporter, Latino

This Mid  Southwest Side ward is about 72 percent Latino. Lopez, who often votes relatively conservatively, told Streetsblog: "I have no issue in honoring  the founder of the city of Chicago. I know arguments have been made back and forth that we honor him in a lot of different ways already, but if that's the will of the city, then so be it. I think this is unfortunate that this has dragged on for so long, going from an academic discussion to one that has racist and classist overtones. A decision must be made. It allows us to focus on things that are impacting our cities in the now, like the violence in the neighborhoods."

16th Stephanie D. Coleman: Supporter, Black

This Mid Southwest Side ward is about 69 percent Black. Coleman, a member of the Progressive Caucus, is a cosponsor.

17th David Moore: Supporter, Black

This Mid Southwest Side ward is about 81 percent Black. Ordinance sponsor Moore, a member of the Progressive Caucus who is running for Illinois Secretary of State has characterized inaccurate claims that a large number of residences would be required to change addresses as "fearmongering." He also denounced multiple editorials and op-eds against DuSable Drive. "These editorials were probably written by some white men who are trying to tell Black people how we should recognize our heroes," he told me.

18th Derrick Curtis: Likely supporter, Black

This Far Southwest Side ward is about 55 percent Black and 31 percent Latino. Curtis is a co-sponsor.

19th Matthew O’Shea: Likely opponent

This Far Southwest Side ward is about 67 percent white. O'Shea represents many precincts that went for Trump in the last election.

20th Jeanette B. Taylor: Supporter, Black

This Mid South Side ward is about 79 percent Black. Taylor, a Democratic Socialist and member of the Progressive Caucus, described an effort by the Chicago Department of Transportation to introduce an alternative ordinance during the last committee meeting on Moore's proposal as seeming "real racist to me. This is the founder of Chicago… all of the sudden [CDOT] throws a monkey wrench into it… If people had a problem with it, they should have said so earlier."

21st Howard Brookins Jr.: Supporter, Black

This Far South Side ward is about 98 percent Black. Brookins is an ordinance cosponsor.

22nd Michael D. Rodriguez: Likely supporter, Latino

This West Side ward is about 87 percent Latino. A member of the Progressive Caucus, Rodriguez confirmed he is a supporter, telling Streetsblog, "You can put me in [dark] blue for DuSable. I’m a strong supporter of the Moore-King effort."

23rd Silvana Tabares: Unknown, Latino

This Far Southwest Side ward is about 67 percent Latino.

24th: Michael Scott Jr.: Likely supporter, Black

This West Side ward is about 86 percent Black.

25th: Byron Sigcho Lopez: Supporter, Latino

This Near Southwest Side ward is about 56 percent Latino, 20 percent white, and 14 percent Asian. Sigcho-Lopez, who is a member of the Progressive Caucus, is a cosponsor of the ordinance. He told Streetsblog, "We've spent years fighting to take down statues that glorify individuals who carried out injustices throughout history. It's time for us to lift up influential individuals who've done right by history and whose recognition has been diminished by white supremacy. We can't just talk about equity and historical disparities -- naming public places is action behind words, and this action has community support."

26th Roberto Maldonado: Unknown, Latino

This Near Northwest Side ward is about 66 percent Latino.

27th Walter Burnett, Jr.: Supporter, Black

This Near West Side and Near North Side ward is about 56 percent percent Black and 25 percent white. Burnett is a cosponsor.

28th Jason Ervin: Likely supporter, Black

This West Side ward is about 76 percent Black.

29th Chris Taliaferro: Supporter, Black

This Far West Side ward is about 69 percent Black. Taliaferro, a member of the Progressive Caucus, is a cosponsor.

30th Ariel E. Reboyras: Opponent, Latino

This Northwest Side ward is about 66 percent Latino and 28 percent white. Reboyras was a cosponsor when the ordinance was introduced in fall 2019, but since he helped Lightfoot block the vote last month, it's safe to assume he is currently an opponent.

31st Alderman Felix Cardona, Jr.: Likely supporter, Latino

This Northwest Side ward is about 76 percent Latino. Since he's a member of the Progressive Caucus, it's likely he will vote for DuSable Drive.

32nd Scott Waguespack: Likely opponent, white

This Near North Side ward is about 73 percent white. Waguespack, a member of the Progressive Caucus, was previously considered an independent who often voted against mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel. However, he is currently a close ally of Lightfoot. Along with the fact that his district is overwhelmingly white, that makes him unlikely to vote against her on this issue.

33rd Rossana Rodriguez: Supporter, Latino

This Mid North Side ward is about 53 percent Latino and 32 percent white. Rodriguez, a Democratic Socialist and member of the Progressive Caucus, told Streetsblog she is voting for DuSable Drive.

34th Carrie Austin: Likely supporter, Black

This Far South Side ward is about 97 percent Black.

35th Carlos Ramirez-Rosa: Supporter, Latino

This Northwest Side ward is about 69 percent Latino. Rosa, a Democratic Socialist and Progressive Caucus member, has been perhaps the most outspoken non-Black supporter of Moore's ordinance, and has specifically highlighted the racial divide in support.

He told Streetsblog, "It is well past time for Chicago to properly recognize our city’s first Black and immigrant resident - one of Chicago's founding fathers. Study after study has found that a lack of positive representations of Black people in the public sphere has a real world impact on Black children and Black children's educational outcomes. So much more must be done to end systemic racism, like ensuring reparations for the descendants of American slaves - but properly honoring Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is a small but important step towards addressing racial injustice.

I have no doubt that if Jean Baptiste Point du Sable were a white man this change would have been made long ago. The only thing controversial about renaming Lake Shore Drive for Chicago's Black founding father is how long it's taken, and the opposition it's received from aldermen representing the most affluent and white areas of our city." The last sentence is apparently a dig at Hopkins and Reilly.

36th Gilbert Villegas: Unknown, Latino

This Far Northwest Side ward is about 67 percent Latino.

37th Emma Mitts: Supporter, Black

This West Side ward is about 79 percent Black. Mitts told Streetsblog, "I think that it would be an honor to have Lake Shore Drive named after DuSable, who first founded the city, so why not? It's taken all these years for people to recognize blacks who contributed much to this city and this world, so let's do it now. This is the time, given the fact that we have been discriminated against, all of our lives. We have not had any reparations."

38th Nicholas Sposato: Likely opponent, white

This Far Northwest Side ward is about 69 percent white. Sposato often votes conservatively, and his district includes many Trump voters.

39th Samantha Nugent: Unknown, white

This Far North Side ward is about 53 percent white, 23 percent Latino, and 18 percent Asian.

40th Andre Vasquez, Jr.: Supporter, Latino

This Far North Side ward is about 51 percent white, 24 percent Latino, and 17 percent Asian. Like fellow Democratic Socialist and Progressive Caucus member Jeanette Taylor, Vasquez referred to the introduction of CDOT's alternative ordinance at the last committee meeting as "absolutely racist," and described calls for decorum against Moore as “tone policing,” and arguing that city officials were trying to stonewall Moore’s proposal.

41st Anthony Napolitano: Likely opponent, white

This Far Northwest Side ward is about 82 percent white. Like neighboring alderman Sposato, Napolitano often votes conservatively, and his district includes many Trump voters.

42nd Brendan Reilly: Opponent, white

This downtown ward is about 69 percent white. It contains the six residential buildings on Lake Shore Drive whose addresses may be affected. “I appreciate that supporters of renaming the drive are passionate in their mission and I applaud them for it," he told Crain's. "However, it appears an overwhelming majority of Chicagoans do not share their vision. [As stated above, Reilly and Hopkins' survey also shows that an overwhelming majority of Chicagoans are not opposed to that vision.]  I do hope the mayor and City Council can work together and find a different option to properly honor."

43rd Michele Smith: Opponent, white

This Near North Lakefront ward is about 85 percent white. It the whitest in Chicago so, unsurprisingly given the survey data, Smith is reporting heavy opposition from residents. The aldermen stated in her newsletter, "The vast majority of constituents who contacted our office similarly do not support the renaming of Outer Lake Shore Drive. I will not support this effort at City Council next week, and trust that City Council can find more appropriate ways to not simply recognize DuSable, but to do more more to educate our citizens about this important part of our heritage."

44th Thomas M. Tunney: Likely opponent, white

This Mid North Lakefront ward is about 83 percent white. In addition to the overwhelmingly white demographics of his district, Tunney tends to vote with the mayor.

45th James M. Gardiner: Likely opponent, white

This Far Northwest Side ward is about 65 percent white and 25 percent Latino. Gardiner tends vote relatively conservatively.

46th James Cappleman: Undecided, white

This Mid North Lakefront ward is about 57 percent white, 20 percent Black, 11 percent Latino, and 10 percent Asian. Cappleman, who often votes with the mayor, told Streetsblog he is still seeking input on the proposal from constituents.

47th Matt Martin: Supporter, Black

This Mid North Side ward is about 75 percent white. Martin, a member of the Progressive Caucus, is a cosponsor.

48th Harry Osterman: Undecided, white

This Far North Lakefront ward is about 54 percent white, 17 percent Black, 14 percent Latino, and 14 percent Asian. A ward staffer told Streetsblog Osterman is still seeking input on the proposal, just like neighboring alderman Cappleman, whose district has similar demographics.

49th Maria E. Hadden: Supporter, Black

This Far North Lakefront ward is about 39 percent white, 28 percent Black, 24 percent Latino, and 8 percent Asian. In her newsletter Hadden, a member of City Council's Progressive Caucus, stated, "The effort to rename the drive after the first, permanent settler of our city, Jean Baptiste Point DuSable is being driven by Black residents who believe that it’s long past time for the founder to have a place of prominence in our city... Monuments and namings matter; what we choose to celebrate and who we choose to honor speaks volumes about our values. We name prominent features like buildings and streets after people of similar prominence to show respect and importance."

50th Debra Silverstein: Likely opponent, white

This Far North Side ward is about 45 percent white, 24 percent Asian, 19 percent Latino, and 11 percent Black. While Silverstein's ward is diverse, it's also contains several precincts that went for Trump in the last election.

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