Chicago, 4th Ward Alderman (2016-)
Touting 30 years of service on the South Side and a long list of political connections, including Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, Toni Preckwinkle, Jesse Ruiz, and Mellody Hobson, Sophia Dorsey King was tapped by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fill the empty aldermanic slot left by William Burns’ abrupt exit from City Hall in the spring of 2016 and confirmed without a hitch. Planning to run for the 4th Ward spot in the February 2017 special election whether she won the appointment or not, King handily won election to her seat with 63% of the vote in a five-way race.
A Colorado native who grew up in Evanston, King says she started volunteering “the moment I moved” to Chicago. In the late 1980s, she married Alan King, now a house music DJ and Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP attorney. The two knew the Obamas long before now-President Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate (Alan reportedly studied for the bar exam with the First Lady) and maintain relationships with other prominent South Siders.
King started in the education realm, working as a chemistry teacher at Chicago’s Latin School, an administrator at Northwestern University and Chicago Public Schools, and a volunteer at Ariel Community Academy, a public school founded by Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson. In 2008, King was appointed President of the Kenwood Park Advisory Council by then-Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, where she stayed until 2015.
King was chosen for the aldermanic position by a committee of five, including Ald. Michelle Harris, Rev. Dr. Richard Tolliver, Bonnie Sanchez, Paula Wolff, and attorney William Lowry. Lowry has a history with King and her husband. In 2013, Lowry, his wife, and the Kings went on to found The It’s Time Organization (TITO), which funds violence intervention programs in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Wards. She received letters of recommendation from Obama Foundation head Marty Nesbitt, Parks District CEO Jesse Ruiz, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Pastor Chris Harris.
Other philanthropic efforts include the 2010 formation of Harriet’s Daughters, “a non-profit group of professional women” that works to “secure employment and wealth creation opportunities for African-American neighborhoods.” Members include Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp and business leaders like Ernst & Young’s Kym Hubbard, Loop Capital’s Sidney Dillard, and former Boeing attorney Deborah Tellman. King was also Vice-Chair for Planned Parenthood Chicago, now Planned Parenthood Illinois.
The February 2017 special election, the only election in Chicago that cycle, attracted tremendous attention, and a suite of well-known neighborhood leaders, including Ebony Lucas and [[Gregory Livingston], the former campaign manager for 2015 mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. But backed by Mayor Emanuel and 5th Ward Democratic Committeeman and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, King had significantly more resources than her challengers. Lucas earned 17.6% of the vote, while King won with 63.6%.
Current Chicago City Council Committees:
- Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics
- Committee on Health and Environmental Protection
- Committee on Housing and Real Estate
- Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety
- Committee on Transportation and Public Way
- Committee on Workforce Development and Audit
- B.A. Chemistry, University of Illinois
- M.A. Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University
Important Political Events
- 2008, Appointed as President of Kenwood Park Advisory Council by Ald. Toni Preckwinkle
- 2016, Appointed 4th Ward Alderman by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, replacing William Burns
- 2017, Elected 4th Ward Aldermen in special election, defeating Ebony Lucas and Gregory Livingston