Chicago City Council

Chicago City Council
Rahm Emanuel, Democratic
since May 15, 2015
Anna Valencia
Chicago City Council composition
Political groups
Length of term
4 years
Two-round system
Last election
Next election
Meeting place
Chicago City Council Chambers.jpg
Council Chambers in Chicago City Hall
The Chicago City Council Chambers are located in Chicago City Hall. (postcard from 1914)

The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Chicago in Illinois. It consists of 50 aldermen elected from 50 wards to serve four-year terms.[1] The Chicago City Council is gaveled into session regularly, usually monthly, to consider ordinances, orders, and resolutions whose subject matter includes code changes, utilities, taxes, and many other issues. The presiding officer of the council is the Mayor of Chicago. The secretary is the City Clerk of Chicago. Both positions are city-wide elected offices. The Chicago City Council Chambers are located in Chicago City Hall, as are the downtown offices of the individual aldermen and staff.

Established in 1837 as the Common Council and renamed to the "City Council" in 1872, it assumed its modern form of 50 wards electing one alderman each in 1923.


Chicago has been divided into wards since 1837, beginning with 6 wards. Until 1923, each ward elected two members to the city council. In 1923, the system that exists today was adopted with 50 wards, each with one council member elected by the ward. In accordance with Illinois state law, ward borders must be shifted after every federal census. This law is intended to give the population of the ward equal representation based by the size of the population of Chicago.[2]

Chicago is unusual among major United States cities in the number of wards and representative aldermen that it maintains. It has been noted that the current ward system promotes diverse ethnic and cultural representation on the city council.[3]

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