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Ald. Michael Scott Jr. resigning from City Council, joining Cinespace Studios

24th Ward Ald. Michael Scott Jr. stepping down from City Council
24th Ward Ald. Michael Scott Jr. stepping down from City Council 00:24

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) is resigning from the City Council to take a job with Cinespace Studios, a West Side movie studio.

"Cinespace Studios is an important part of the local film and television infrastructure.  I am excited to join the organization and help lead efforts with our partners that will bring meaningful impact to our community," Scott said in a statement.

Scott's last day in office as alderman will be June 3. He is in his second term representing the 24th Ward that includes his native North Lawndale. 

"As long as I can remember, my life's dream has been to serve my community as the Alderman of the 24 Ward," Scott wrote in his resignation letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "Over the course of my career, I have served at Chicago Public Schools, the Public Building Commission, After School Matters, and the Chicago Park District. However, the greatest honor of my life, (besides being a husband and a father) has been the last seven years serving the residents of the 24th Ward as their Alderman. Working alongside the community, the 24th Ward, once dubbed the permanent underclass, is poised for a major renaissance. My wish has been to serve and give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family. Hopefully, 1 made it a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family during my tenure as Alderman."

Hours after Scott announced his resignation, without revealing his specific plans for a new career, Cinespace Studios announced it was hiring Scott as their new director of industry and community relations.

"In this new role, Scott will provide strategic management for industry and community relations and develop local philanthropic and early education programs for Chicago.  He will oversee the job training program that has been providing residents from underserved communities on the west and south sides with hands-on experience on productions filming at Cinespace Studios," the company said in a statement.

The West Side movie studio has helped set off a surge of film and TV productions in Chicago in the past decade, including several Chicago-based TV shows and two Transformers movies.

"Michael has a proven track record for building programs and bringing resources to underserved communities. His wealth of experience and drive to make a positive impact will advance Cinespace's commitment to creating visible pathways for job opportunities and ensuring equal access in the film and TV industry," said Cinespace president and co-managing partner Ashley Rice. 

A close ally of Lightfoot, Scott was tapped as chair of the City Council Education Committee after Lightfoot took office in 2019. Vice chair Ald. Sophia King (4th), who also chairs the council's progressive caucus, will take over leadership of the committee after Scott steps down.

Before he was first elected as an alderman in 2015, Scott worked for 12 years at the Chicago Park District, including as a park supervisor and area manager.

His father, Michael Scott Sr., was a top advisor under Mayors Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer, and Richard M. Daley, serving as Chicago Board of Education President, Chicago Park District Board president, and a member of the boards of the Regional Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.

Scott Jr.'s resignation marks the second time since Lightfoot took office that the mayor will be tasked with appointing an alderman to fill a vacant seat on the City Council.

Following former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson's conviction on federal tax charges earlier this year, Lightfoot appointed Nicole Lee as the new alderperson of the 11th Ward, making her the first Chinese American woman to serve on the council.

Once Scott officially steps down, Lightfoot will have 60 days to appoint someone to fill the vacant 24th Ward seat until the next city election in 2023.

Lightfoot's office announced that anyone interested in applying to be the next 24th Ward alderman can submit an application to aldermanicvacancy@cityofchicago.org or mail applications to City Hall care of the 24th Ward Vacancy Committee. Applicants must have lived in the 24th Ward for at least one year before the appointment, and applications are due by 5 p.m. on June 7.

"As I've done with previous Aldermanic vacancies, I will work tirelessly to find someone who embodies the values of the 24th ward and the rest of our city," Lightfoot said in a statement. "This candidate must be able to speak to and advocate for the unique needs of the communities they will represent, as well as possess the lived experiences necessary to connect with their residents. I am committed to finding this person through an open and transparent process, as the residents of the 24th ward deserve no less." 

Once the application period is over, a mayoral search committee will review the applications and conduct interviews before recommending a slate of candidates to the mayor, who will select a finalist for confirmation by the City Council, to serve until the next aldermanic election in 2023.

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