It is always a good idea that when one announces an open and transparent process for choosing an alderman, that it indeed be an open and transparent process. In that sense, Mayor Rahm Emanuel succeeded beyond expectations. Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Natashia L. Holmes will be the new alderman representing Chicago’s seventh ward.
Who is Natashia L. Holmes?
It is easier to say who she is not. Holmes is not connected to former Alderman and Cook County Commissioner William Beavers. By extension, Holmes is not connected to another former Alderman Darcel Beavers who is the daughter of William. Darcel Beavers was handed the job after he father resigned. Holmes is not connected to former Alderman Sandy Jackson who resigned amid a federal investigation that started with her husband former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
But the process was open and transparent, a refreshing change in Chicago politics. As Mayor Emanuel said at the press conference announcing Holmes, "Holmes does not come out of either families or histories or institutions. This is a clear break and a new beginning."
“After an extensive and thorough process, I am pleased to announce that Natashia L. Holmes will be the new Alderman representing the seventh ward,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Natashia will bring professionalism and a strong sense of the needs of the community to the position and I am confident that she will be a steadfast advocate for the residents of the seventh ward.”
The Chicago Sun Times columnist Mary Mitchell called the selection of Natashia L. Holmes as seventh ward alderman a "fresh face in Chicago politics."
The selection of Holmes came after a thorough process in which 48 candidates were reviewed by a five-member selection committee. Four finalists met with the Mayor last week and he made his final decision over the weekend.
“I am very excited about this opportunity and I look forward to doing my best to represent the needs, interests, and aspirations of the people of the seventh ward,” said Natashia Holmes. “We have a lot of opportunity ahead of us and I believe that by working together we can create a brighter future for everyone.”
Natashia Holmes is a career expert in policy development, data analysis, and project management and logistics. Prior to being named Alderman, she worked for Metro Strategies. Metro Strategies provides planning, policy and public affairs services to public, private, and nonprofit entities. She has also served as a senior official at the Illinois Department of Transportation working to foster coordination between transit and rail programs; worked as Senior Transportation Associate for the Metropolitan Planning Council; and began her professional career with the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference as a Transportation Planning Liaison.
Ms. Holmes has lived in Chicago most of her adult life and has been an active resident of the seventh ward and a vibrant member of the Chicago community. She has served as President of the Metropolitan Conference on Public Transportation Research for two years, and as a Community Representative on the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Paideia Academy Local School Council. She is currently a member of the External Advisory Board for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Environmental Science and Policy.
Ms. Holmes holds a B.S. from Alabama State University, College of Education, a Master of Community Planning from Auburn University, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, and a J.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law.
“We are pleased with the selection of our newest colleague,” said Ald. Michelle Harris (8th ward), who sat on the selection committee. “We will surely aid our newest member of the council to ensure that her constituents’ needs are met."
Mayor Emanuel thanked the selection committee for their efforts on behalf of the city of Chicago.
“The selection committee undertook a very important task and completed it admirably and efficiently, and the seventh ward and the entire city of Chicago will benefit from their work,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am very appreciative of their commitment and their willingness to use their time on behalf of Chicagoans.”
Prior to the naming of Holmes to the seat, former Alderman Sandy Jackson caused a stir at City Hall by bragging that "I am picking my own replacement for alderman," as reported in the Chicago City Hall Examiner last month.
Sandy Jackson explained to a gathering of mostly political workers that “from an insider’s point of view, Mayor Rahm may say he wants to have interviews. The people he will interview will be the people I am suggesting. They are interviewing people in the community, but they do that to calm people down. People want to have their input. But for the most part, they turn that matter over to the alderman.”
The implication was that the process for choosing her successor would be a farce. The fix would be in.
It was not.
Yes, newly-named Alderman Natashia L. Holmes will have an uphill climb fighting the forces of the Jacksons and the Beavers to keep her slot, if that is what she chooses. Possibly with a little or a lot of help for Mayor Emanuel. At least for the moment, it is advantage Holmes.
I might add, advantage Emanuel.
Ms. Holmes will appear in front of the City Council’s Rules Committee prior to the full City Council meeting on Wednesday, and then will be sworn in as part of the full meeting of the council.
The seventh ward includes the South Shore, South Chicago, Calumet Heights, Jeffrey Manor and South Deering communities.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books