What Does an Alderman in Chicago Do?

In the city of Chicago, an alderman is an elected member of the city council. Along with the mayor, aldermen act as the legislative body of the city by voting on items such as proposed loans, grants, land acquisitions and sales, zoning changes and traffic control issues. Chicago has 50 legislative districts or wards, and each one is represented by an alderman who serves a four-year term.

In addition to dealing with issues pertaining to their specific wards, aldermen often serve on committees that involve larger projects. As of 2014, Chicago has 19 standing committees dedicated to different areas of interest. These committees include committees on zoning, landmarks and building standards; pedestrian and traffic safety; workforce development and audit; committees, rules and ethics; economic, capital and technology development; finance; budget and government operations; public safety; transportation and public way; and housing and real estate.

In the United States, just about anyone can run for election to be an alderman. However, every district has guidelines that determine if an individual is a viable candidate, such as guidelines that deal with the existence of a criminal record or any conflicts of interest.

Other cities in the United States that have aldermen are St. Louis, Mo.; Milwaukee, Minn. and New Haven, Conn.