Visit The TRiiBE Election Center to learn more about the upcoming 2023 Chicago municipal election. Click here to find your Chicago ward and police district.

Incumbent: Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. Re-elected

Population: 57,468

Demographics:

  • 46%  Black
  • 15.4%  Latine
  • 29.8%  White
  • 5.1%  Asian

Neighborhoods included:

  • Cabrini Green
  • River West
  • Goose Island
  • Fulton Market District
  • West Loop
  • East Garfield Park
  • Illinois Medical District
  • Humboldt Park

Median household income:

  • For East Garfield Park, $23,067, as of July 2022.
  • For Humboldt Park, $41,536, as of July 2022.
  • For the city of Chicago, $62,097, as of July 2022. 

Top issues, according to people we interviewed:

  • Affordability 
  • Carjackings
  • Too much development 

Landmarks: 

  • United Center
  • 2337 W. Monroe Street; where Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton was assassinated
  • Former site of the Illinois Black Panther Party’s Chicago headquarters, 2350 W. Madison Ave
  • Soho House
  • Cabrini-Green row homes
  • Current Chicago police academy; 1300 W. Jackson Blvd.

The 27th Ward is bubbling with new construction, and the most significant development in the works is the forthcoming Bally’s casino. The proposed site will be in the River West neighborhood at the former site of the Chicago Tribune’s Publishing Center. 

The $1.7 billion casino proposal includes a 3,000-seat theater, a 500-room luxury hotel, a Riverwalk extension, a pedestrian bridge, an outdoor park, an outdoor music venue and more. Developers say the project will generate 3,000 construction jobs as well as 3,000 permanent casino jobs, and bring in $400 million yearly in gaming and other revenues for the city and state. 

The casino site is a stone’s throw away from the former Cabrini-Green Homes public housing projects. At its peak, the complex was known for its high-rise buildings that were home to at least 15,000 people, predominantly Black and low-income families. Remnants of the neighborhood’s past are now juxtaposed against new luxury apartments, townhomes, condos and retailers such as Target and Apple. The remaining Cabrini-Green two-story row homes are a few blocks west of the historic St. Luke Church of God in Christ.  

Last December, City Council members approved zoning for the proposed site. However, Bally’s Casino still needs approval from the Illinois Gaming Board. A temporary casino site will operate from Medinah Temple in River North. The state gaming board approved supplier licenses for the temporary location on Feb. 10, but the temporary casino won’t open until the gaming board approves Bally’s gaming license.  

Veteran Alds. Ed Burke (14th Ward) and Carrie Austin (34th Ward) are not seeking reelection, meaning Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward), who is running unopposed for his 8th term, will be the longest-serving alder in the City Council. Burnett grew up near the Cabrini-Green public housing projects on North Cambridge Avenue. 

For our West Side wards profile series, The TRiiBE interviewed two residents of the 27th Ward and asked them about their experiences living and working in the ward and what they’d like to see in terms of improvement for the ward going forward. 

Vince Carter, 67 years old

Neighborhood you live in: Near North

Neighborhood you work in: My program office is in the Near North as well. Old Cabrini. When I talk about it, I throw the Cabrini in there, so Cabrini-Near North.”

Homeowner or renter? Renter

Occupation: Executive director of Project Education Plus, a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher

Do you know who your alderperson is? “Yes, Walter Burnett”

What has your alderperson done for you in the 27th Ward? “I think he had a group of neighborhoods that have changed, gentrified, all of that other stuff, over the years. I think he’s done a decent job of balancing that. He had Cabrini, but he also had Old Town. He’s been around since they rejuvenated the United Center. He’s got all the union places over there around the Ashland-Jackson area. And now his ward goes all the way out West, which involves lower middle-class or middle-class neighborhoods. I think he’s done a good job—or, not always making everybody happy, but he’s done a good job of balancing all those people, those different personalities.”

Have you met your alderperson? Yes. We’re both in an organization called the Near North Unity Project. And I do serve on some other committees and things that we’ve had a chance to be involved with.”

What do you like about living in the 27th Ward? 

  • Diversity
  • Shopping and restaurants
  • Incoming casino: “I was for the casino moving into the neighborhood. I can walk to the casino from where I live. This goes back to what I said about Walter having a diverse economic engine in the 27th Ward. It’s not just about the people that live around the casino. I get it. We try to make the quality of life better for the people that live in an area where things are being laced. However, if we want to continue to have a thriving Chicago — now what they do with the money, I don’t know — we needed some things. You gotta have things to bring people into the city. I envision this casino as an engine to get more local businesses around the neighborhood and in the 27th Ward and even the wards next to the 27th Ward.”

What do you like about working in the 27th Ward? “When I first started working in the ward, I worked in Cabrini. So that wasn’t diverse economically or demographically. That was back in 1980. Obviously the area has changed tremendously since those days.”

What do you dislike about living and working in the 27th Ward?

  • Gas prices: “The gas stations charge too much money.”
  • Overpricing: “Some things just seem like they’re a little overpriced for no reason. I mean, I get it, property taxes, property values are a little higher. I think some of the people just charge more because they can get it from people that live in the area, but it puts a burden on those people that have been traditionally lower income.”

What do you wish your alderperson would do to improve the 27th Ward? “I think he’s doing a good job. It’s really nothing I want to see him do.”

Stephanie M., (age not given)

Neighborhood you live in: West Loop

Neighborhood you work in: Illinois Medical District 

Homeowner or renter? Homeowner 

Occupation: “I just finished nursing school, and I’m studying for my NCLEX [National Council Licensure Examination]. So you can say that I’m a nurse. By the time this is printed, or within the next few months, I should be working as a nurse at one of the hospitals in the [Illinois] Medical District.”

Do you know who your alderperson is? “We are such a weirdly configured area because there are parts of us that are in [Ald.] Walter Burnett’s ward, but I think my development which is across from the police academy, is in the 28th, which is [Ald. Jason] Ervin’s Ward.” (Reporter’s note: Stephanie M.’s home was previously in the 28th Ward before the 2022 remapping). 

Have you met Ald. Jason Ervin? “Yeah, he came to our block party. He showed up and came and shook hands. It was the last thing that we had pre-COVID-19. So that would have been 2019.” 

What do you like about living in the 27th Ward? 

  • Shops, restaurants and activities: The West Loop has a lot of restaurants and mom-and-pop stores. You’re very close to Randolph [Street], and Randolph is like our little Chicago Restaurant Row. 
  • Green space: “This area had a lot more grassy streets and parks than other places that I looked for townhomes.” 
  • Not congested like other neighborhoods like Lincoln Park or Wicker Park: “When they first started putting all these condos and stuff out this way. I thought it was very hip. It’s downtown but not congested, and I liked the West Loop compared to the South Loop or other places.” 
  • Proximity to the Lakefront and Michigan Avenue: “It’s very easy to get down on Michigan Avenue. You’ve got shopping, and you have parks. I was training for the breast cancer walk, so it was easy to run to the Lakefront.”

I want to circle back to Ald. Ervin. What do you think about what he’s done for 28th Ward? “When I call 311, if I need a new trash can or if there’s a big pothole in our neighborhood, it’s usually the alderman’s office that you’re making those requests to if I ever have to report something. I feel they’re very responsive in meeting West Loop residents’ needs as far as I can tell.” 

What do you dislike about living and working in the 27th Ward?

  • New developments that are decreasing available green space:  “Before, I could see straight down to Willis Tower. I could see over the horizon to some of the buildings and such that are close to the Water Tower. A lot of that is completely covered now by buildings. Even when there was like a little five-story building that was on a corner, it had a modest height and didn’t give you the feeling that you’re suffocating from tall buildings. I see a lot more of that in our neighborhood now. My favorite car wash was over on Van Buren [Street], and that is now a 12-story building. They are taking little to no space and erecting this big monstrosity, and it’s all over. I believe that it’s the alderman that is working with city development to approve that, and I don’t like that.” 
  • Permit parking: “All of a sudden, a lot of permit parking has come in our area. 

We didn’t have a lot of that before. So any family member could show up and park and not have to worry.”

  • Lack of diversity: “It’s not an overabundance of Black people that live in this area. You’ve got a lot of minorities, brown people of color, and Indians and Asians and Blacks. I don’t like that there is a detachment from homeless people that may be in the bus [shelters]. Sometimes there are people who are very caring and want to help, and then some see it as a nuisance.” 

You said you feel there isn’t an overabundance of Black people in the West Loop. So I wonder when you see Black people are they shopping, working, living in, or traveling through the neighborhood? “There’s a combination of maybe renters or homeowners, and I see Black people out running [exercising], or they appear to be people that probably are professionals or have some kind of professional job. There’s a large contingency of young Black people that work in Target. There are a lot of retail shops and restaurants on Randolph [Street] and on Lake Street. So there are a lot of pockets where people can work. So I do see a lot of Black people that work in this area from that standpoint.”

What do you wish your alderperson would do to improve the 27th Ward?

  • Too much development: “There’s too much big business that’s coming over here. I don’t like it. I like it to be more mom-and-pop-ish.” 
  • Transparency: “Chicago has always been known as a city of negotiators and wheeling and dealing. I wasn’t a big fan of [former mayor Richard M.] Daley back in the day because it seemed like somebody was always benefiting from some of the things we have set up, like this parking situation where there wasn’t any parking. Somebody is making billions off of that. And we’re paying the price. Those kinds of things are disturbing to me. (Reporter’s note: In 2008, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley sold Chicago’s street parking system to a private company, Chicago Parking Meters LLC, for $1.15 billion. The city’s contract with the company doesn’t expire until 2084. In 2022, The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Chicago Parking Meters LLC now regained its initial $1.16 billion investment and $502.5 million more with just 61 years left on its 75-year lease). 
  • More opportunities for Black youth: “I overwhelmingly believe there should be more opportunities, volunteering and community-based things that uplift young people on the South and the West sides. I just feel like if that same person had something they were channeled into, that is giving them hope, that is giving them a trade or skill, then maybe they would not be less inclined to get into trouble.” 
is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.
is the editor-in-chief of The TRiiBE and a 2023-2024 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.