b. May 15, 1949
Chicago, 34th Ward Alderman (1991-)
Chicago, 34th Ward Democratic Committeeman (1996-)
Illinois, 2nd Congressional District State Central Democratic Committeewoman (2000-)
Hardly a wallflower, Carrie M. Austin is a bible quoting, fire-breathing political dynamo who carries the torch of a South Side Chicago political empire started more than thirty years ago by Wilson Frost and continued by Carrie's late husband Lemuel Austin, Jr..
Newly created by a ward boundary remap in the 1960's, Frost gained control of the ward. Then, through a series of political jujitsu following Mayor Richard J. Daley's death, Frost was given chairmanship of the powerful Finance Committee in return for supporting Michael Bilandic's appointment for mayor in 1976. Through the Finance Committee post Frost consolidated his power over the 34th Ward-and Black Chicago politics-and translated it into a position on the Cook County Board of Tax Review, leaving the aldermanic seat open. Frost recommended his assistant for Streets and Sanitation, Annette Bitoy for the job, but she declined to run for reelection in 1987. Lemuel Austin, then the ward superintendent for Streets and Sanitation, ran for the spot in an eight-way race and won.
In those early days of Richard M. Daley's administration–before he had gained an iron control of City Council–Lemuel became one of Daley’s staunchest African-American supporters.
Then, only four years after becoming alderman, and at the age of 48, Lemuel Austin died of a sudden heart attack in 1991. Carrie Austin, who had been serving as 34th Ward Democratic Organization Secretary–taking every political step with her husband–was appointed to the job by Mayor Daley in 1994. Daley never forgot Lemuel Austin's support or Carrie Austin's. As Alderman she has rarely wavered from supporting Mayor Daley, and her star has steadily rose as a result.
Over her two decades in City Council, Austin has proven herself a consistent ally of Mayor Richard M. Daley, and in 2007 earned the chair of the powerful Budget Committee, a position she has held ever since. Her ward also provides one of the biggest voter turnouts in the city, and as 34th Ward Democratic Committeeman, her campaign office is a regular stop for those seeking higher office.
Immediately before the October 2015 Budget Committee hearings Austin had a major health scare, causing her to go into a coma, she later told Council members. While she missed a major portion of the hearings, Austin recovered and now attends Council meetings with the same fearlessness as before. None-the-less, her health problems have encouraged rumors that this will be her last term.
Austin has also built a strong working relationship with bordering Calumet Township Committeeman John Rita, whose son is State Representative Robert Rita, who includes the 34th Ward in his legislative district. She is also close with Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims, who had for a time employed Austin's second husband, Bobby Jackson as her chief of staff.
Current Chicago City Council Committees:
- Committee on Aviation
- Committee on Budget and Government Relations, Chair
- Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics, Vice Chair
- Committee on Finance
- Committee on Health and Environmental Protection
- Committee on Housing and Real Estate
- Committee on Public Safety
- Committee on Workforce Development and Audit
- Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards
- Council Office of Financial Analysis Oversight Committee
Important Political Events
- 1987, husband Lemuel Austin, Jr. is elected 34th Ward Alderman
- 1988, Appointed 34th Ward Democratic Party Secretary
- 1991, husband Lemuel Austin, Jr. dies, Carrie Austin is appointed Alderman
- 1996, elected 34th Ward Democratic Committeeman
- 2000, elected 2nd District Democratic State Central Committeewoman
- 2007, appointed City Council Budget Committee Chair