Howard Brookins Jr.
b. October 21, 1963
Chicago, 21st Ward Alderman (2003-)
Chicago, 21st Democratic Committeeman (2004-)
Alderman Howard B. Brookins, Jr., was first elected in 2003 against then-incumbent Rev. Leonard DeVille in a runoff by a narrow 128 votes.
Brookins' 2007 reelection was largely defined by his vote against the 2005 Big Box Living Wage Ordinance and his push to bring a Walmart to his ward. He succeeded in blocking the Big Box Ordinance, but failed to get enough votes to approve a plan to locate a Walmart on the former Ryerson Steel site. Brookins ended up in the worst of two worlds: he opposed the unions on the Big Box Ordinance and had no Walmart and Walmart jobs to show for it. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) named him a top target for 2007.
Finally reconciling with Mayor Richard M. Daley a few months before the 2007 election, Brookins was able to defeat SEIU organizer Leroy Jones, Jr. in a runoff election with Daley's financial support. The 21st Ward has one of the highest voter turnouts in the city–more than twice as much as many other wards–well-positioning whoever controls the ward for higher office. In the 2008 Democratic Primary, Brookins' made an unsuccessful bid for Cook County State’s Attorney As the most visible African-American candidate, and with the recruitment of super-insider Mike Noonan as his campaign manager, Brookins was expected to dominate the race. But a number of organizational missteps and Brookins' failure to attract significant fundraising caused his candidacy to stumble. He finished fourth in a six-way race, losing to political new-comer Anita Alvarez.
Alderman Brookins’ wife, Ebonie Brookins, sells real estate for MGM Terrell Group, a developer in a tax increment finance (TIF) district enacted by the city in his ward. The conflict of interest was disclosed during his unsuccessful campaign for Cook County state’s attorney. Brookins is a partner at Brookins and Wilson Law Firm and a long-time Chicago resident. He attended Roseland’s Mendel Catholic High School, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and received his J.D. from Northern Illinois University. He served as Assistant Public Defender, Assistant State’s Attorney and Special Assistant Attorney General before running for alderman.
Brookins’ father is well-known, former Illinois State Senator Howard B. Brookins, Sr., who founded the family-run Brookins Funeral Home in Auburn-Gresham. His former chief of staff, Curtis Thompson, Jr., pled guilty and was convicted of federal bribery charges in December 2014. In September 2017, Brookins was fined $5,000 by the Board of Ethics for lax record keeping of staff timecards by Thompson.
Employment and Electoral History
Alderman Brookins made a failed attempt at the Cook County State’s Attorney office in the 2008 Democratic Primary election. He had the backing of a variety of West Side politicians including, U.S. Congressman Danny Davis, state representatives Annazette Collins and Deborah Graham, Aldermen Isaac Carothers (29th Ward) and Emma Mitts (37th Ward), and Cook County Commissioners Earlean Collins and Bobbie Steele.
Current Chicago City Council Committees:
- Committee on Aviation
- Committee on Budget and Government Operations
- Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics
- Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development
- Committee on Education and Child Development, Chair
- Committee on Finance
- Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety
- Committee on Workforce Development and Audit
- Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards
- Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, B.A.
- Northern Illinois University, J.D.
Important Political Events
- 2003, Elected 21st Ward Alderman, Defeated incumbent Leonard DeVille in a run-off
- 2004, Elected 21st Ward Democratic Committeeman, replacing Leonard DeVille
- 2007, Reelected 21st Ward Alderman, Defeated Leroy Jones, Jr. in a run-off
- 2008, Lost Cook County State's Attorney to Anita Alvarez
- 2014, His chief of staff, Curtis Thompson, Jr., convicted of federal bribery charges.