The Chicago City Council approved Monique Scott to the 24th Ward aldermanic post left vacant by her brother, former Ald. Michael Scott Jr.
Monique Scott was Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s pick and will now represent the West Side ward until the 2023 aldermanic election.
Lightfoot’s office quietly announced Monique Scott as her pick to fill the post on a holiday afternoon on June 20. With the approval of City Council, Monique Scott will take over her brother’s position after he resigned to work in a new role at clout-heavy CineSpace Chicago film studios on the West Side.
Like her brother and late father, Michael Scott Sr., Monique Scott spent much of her career dedicated to the Chicago Park District, where she is the supervisor for Ellis Park. Before being elected alderman in 2015, her brother was area manager for dozens of parks and facilities on the West Side.
The Scott family has a powerful political legacy punctuated by Michael Scott Sr.’s posts as president of the Park District Board, president of the Chicago Board of Education and a close ally of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Before working for the Park District, Monique Scott worked as a health consultant for North Lawndale Christian Health Center. She also coaches the North Lawndale Eagles cheerleading team.
“I am honored to be chosen to represent the hardworking men and women of the 24th Ward,” Monique Scott said in a press release. “Building on the work of the previous alderman, I will strive to bring economic development and safety to my residents. At this crucial moment, I am excited to serve my community and make North Lawndale a better place for all.”
In the mayor’s announcement of her pick Monday, which did not note the relationship between the siblings, Lightfoot said Monique Scott has been a dedicated and active member of the North Lawndale community her entire life.
“There is no one better suited to lead the residents of the 24th Ward at this critical time for recovery and development,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Furthermore, Monique has the resourcefulness and community connectedness to work across sectors to get things done.”
The appointment of a resigning alderman’s sister as own replacement raised eyebrows and drew accusations of nepotism.
“Nepotism means being entitled to something because you’re related to someone. What you can do is have a special election and let the people in that ward pick who they want,” said George Blakemore, a concerned citizen who regularly comments at city council meetings.
The mayor dismissed critics who warned of nepotism as “frankly lazy.”
Ald. David Moore (17th) defended the mayor’s choice, saying Monique Scott’s family has “worked with you to be a servant” of the community, he said. It wouldn’t be fair for Monique Scott to be excluded from city council due to her family’s connections, Moore said.
“If we’re not grooming people in our family to serve… then what are we here for? It should start at home. …Succession planning starts at home,” Moore said.
Michael Scott Jr.’s colleagues in city hall poked fun at the former alderman while welcoming his sister into city council.
“We know you have some small shoes and some short shoes to fill. We welcome you and we know you’re going to do a great job,” said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th).
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) welcomed Monique Scott to work with other West Side aldermen to “make sure that we’re working in conjunction so that we’re working not just for one neighborhood but for all neighborhoods,” Mitts said.
Lightfoot picked Monique Scott after evaluating a shortlist of three candidates selected from a broader pool of applicants by an advisory committee of three community leaders based in North Lawndale, the neighborhood that makes up the bulk of the 24th Ward. Those who sought to replace Scott in the 24th Ward — which includes North Lawndale and parts of Little Village, Austin and Garfield Park — included local entrepreneurs, police officers, and former staffers from Scott’s office.
Brenda Palms Barber, president and CEO of North Lawndale Employment Network, served on the committee that vetted the 24th Ward aldermanic applicants. Palms Barber said Monique Scott’s “comprehensive understanding of North Lawndale’s challenges and opportunities” made her the best choice.
“I was impressed by her passion for the community and am excited to see her build on the great work being done in the 24th Ward,” Barber said.