Isaac Carothers

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Isaac Carothers

b. July 26, 1954

Chicago, 29th Ward Alderman (1997-2010)
Chicago, 29th Ward Democratic Committeeman (2000-2010)

Isaac "Ike" Carothers is the definition of West Side political aristocracy. His grandfather Ike Sims was once 28th Ward Democratic Committeeman and a State Representative. His father, William, was once 28th Ward Alderman and Democratic Committeeman until current 28th Ward Alderman Ed Smith defeated him in the historic 1983 elections on the coattails of the late Mayor Harold Washington.

While the Carothers family lost the 28th Ward in 1983, because they supported Richard M. Daley in the election, they gained an important long-term ally. As a likely result of his family’s good political sense, Isaac Carothers’ career has wound through a series of city jobs, eventually leading to becoming Alderman in 1999. Now, as chair of the powerful City Council Police and Fire Committee, Carothers has a say on every major Police and Fire Department promotion, expenditure and policy change in the city.

An unabashed and vocal supporter of the patronage system, Carothers has recently fallen afoul of federal investigators. In 2005 investigators asked about his connections to convicted Hired Truck figure Martin McDonagh, who allegedly made the contributions at the suggestion of John Boyle (“Quarters”), who was also convicted as part of the Hired Truck investigation. Carothers faced questions in early 2008 about zoning changes he pushed to get approved through the city council after his relationship with an FBI mole was exposed. The FBI mole was John Thomas, listed by the FBI as a ‘manager’ of Morgan Properties, Inc.[1] Morgan Properties, Inc. made four separate donations totaling $11,000 to Carothers 29th Ward Campaign Committee.

During the spring 2008 trial of Robert Sorich when federal prosecutors unveiled the list of clouted job seekers and their political sponsors[2], Carothers’ name appeared more than any other alderman.[3]

Carothers has been a consistent opponent of Cong. Danny Davis, a 29th Ward resident, who preceded him as Alderman in the Ward. In 2004 Carother’s backed his sister-in-law Alice Rivkin-Carothers in a losing race for Congress against Davis.

Carothers is also closely allied with 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts. Much of Mitts' political strength comes from Carothers’ organization.

Carothers’ brother, Tony Carothers, is a lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department.

In 2010, Carothers was convicted on federal corruption charges, vacated his offices, and was sent to prison.

In 2014, Carothers attempted a political comeback by running for Earlean Collins' vacated Cook County Commissioner seat. He lost to Richard Boykin.

Employment and Electoral History

Carothers began his public career as an investigator working for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. In 1989 Carothers was appointed Superintendent of the Chicago Department of Water. In 1993 Carothers was appointed Director of Internal Audit for the Chicago Park District. He was responsible for the auditing performance for Chicago’s 550 parks and playgrounds. In 1997 Carothers was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation where he was responsible for a $54.5 million budget with 508 employees. Since becoming Alderman in 1999, Carothers has secured over $60 million in projects for the 29th ward. In August of 2001 Carothers was appointed Chairman of the Chicago City Council’s Police and Fire Committee.


  • DePaul University, B.A., Political Science
  • Chicago State University, M.A., Criminal Justice

Important Political Events

  • Investigator for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office
  • 1989, Superintendent of the Chicago Department of Water
  • 1993, Director of Internal Audit for the Chicago Park District
  • 1997, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation
  • 1999, Elected 29th Ward Alderman, replacing Sam Burrell
  • 2000, Elected 29th Ward Democratic Committeeman, defeating Danny Davis
  • 2009, Indicted on bribery charges
  • 2010, Convicted on bribery charges, retired as 29th Ward Alderman and Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Deborah Graham
  • 2014, Defeated for Cook County Commissioner by Richard Boykin