Lightfoot’s ‘No. 1 cheerleader in the city council rethinks support over the mayor’s “coldness”

Posted January 10, 2023 5:22 p.m

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CHICAGO – Ald. Derrick Curtis (18th) said Tuesday that he has doubts about his support for Mayor Lori Lightfoot — and his role as her “No. 1 cheerleader” — because of the mayor’s “coldness,” including her inability to reach out to him after he accidentally shot himself.

A former Chicago Housing Authority police officer, Curtis suffered a gunshot wound to his wrist last fall while cleaning a gun in the 8200 block of South Christiana.

He said the accident, which required him to undergo minor hand surgery, happened while he was helping a neighbor with a firearm that had been “defective at the gun range.”

What angers Curtis – and now makes him think twice about supporting Lightfoot – is the mayor’s failure to reach out to him after the accidental shooting and her failure to call him recently when he was admitted for a blood count, as he put it. , “super low.”

“If we were in a relationship, she should have reached out to me. I deserved some kind of call or conversation just to see how I was doing. Just checking in on me. That’s what friends do,” Curtis said.

“I felt like I was a very, very close friend and ally with her. I was really a No. 1 cheerleader. But she never called when I shot myself… I wouldn’t treat my friends that way. “

The Lightfoot campaign had no immediate comment.

After the Sun-Times reached out to the mayor’s campaign about the councilman’s remarks, a concerned Curtis sent the Sun-Times a text that read, “I hear you’re running the story that I’m pulling away from the mayor. I said we need to talk together.”

Last summer, the Chicago Board of Ethics fined Curtis $1,000 for using his official city email account to advertise an event launching Lightfoot’s re-election campaign.

The fine stemmed from a June 2 email Curtis wrote inviting his constituents to the mayor’s re-election kickoff at Starlight Restaurant on June 8. About 100 residents were encouraged to reserve a place for the “supporter” breakfast by contacting Curtis’ branch office.

After a citizen complaint, the board determined there was probable cause to conclude that Curtis had violated the city’s ethics ordinance by including “campaign-related content in official congregational newsletter emails from a email address, contrary to clear board instructions on the incorrect mixing of political and official content.

Curtis has insisted that the invitation was sent from his personal email account. He said he closed his branch office for a few hours the morning Lightfoot announced so his staff would be free to attend. Many members of Curtis’ staff did just that, wearing T-shirts with the 18th Ward logo.

On Tuesday, Curtis complained that ever since the campaign launch and the ethics investigation it sparked, Lightfoot has neither reached out to him nor returned his calls and texts.

“Maybe she’s just too busy. Maybe it’s me and I’m stuck in my own feelings. But I wouldn’t treat my friends like that,” he said.

“I tried to talk to her about a lot of things. Maybe that’s what we should do: sit down and talk if she’s up for it. But the way I feel, I won’t reach out. I want her to reach out. I’m not chasing her anymore.”

Given the loyalty he has shown to the mayor, Curtis said he likely deserved a committee chairmanship. Instead, Lightfoot has yet to fill three chair positions vacated by councilors who have already resigned: Ethics, Education and Environmental Protection and Energy.

“I’m probably as loyal to her as other chairmen who have turned their backs on her,” he said.

Curtis is one of about half a dozen African-American aldermen supporting Lightfoot’s re-election bid in a nine-member field that includes seven black candidates.

Black Caucus Chair Jason Ervin (28th), one of Lightfoot’s staunchest supporters, has warned that with seven black candidates and a divided and diminished African-American vote, the black community risks “draining it all.”

If the deep freeze between Lightfoot and Curtis continues, Curtis said he is likely to sit out the first round of mayoral contests and see who makes it to the runoff.

“She’s not feeling well at all,” he said.

Curtis acknowledged that Lightfoot was dealt a bad hand with a first term dominated by the pandemic, civil unrest.

But, he said, “I wouldn’t have debated in front of the public with other members of the city council. … Sometimes you can be pushed. I saw people push. But you should be able to control it.”

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