b. March 17, 1964
Chicago, 15th Ward Alderman (2007-2015)
Chicago, 16th Ward Alderman (2015-)
Chicago, 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman (2008-2012)
Chicago, 16th Ward Democratic Committeeman (2015-2016)
Toni Foulkes, a former Jewel Osco bakery worker and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) activist, rode to City Council on 2007's as-of-then unprecedented wave of labor union spending on Chicago aldermanic elections. As a Jewel employee, Foulkes was a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 (UFCW), which along with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had stridently opposed Mayor Richard M. Daley's efforts to bring Walmart to Chicago and supported the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance since 2005. After organizing against Walmart’s efforts to locate in Chicago, Foulkes was plucked up by unions; she received hundreds of thousands of dollars of union political action spending in the 2007 open seat race for the 15th Ward.
The 2007 campaign pitted Foulkes in both the general election and a runoff against Felicia Simmons-Stovall, an attorney backed by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's 27th Ward organization and then-Ald. Isaac Carothers' 29th Ward organization. Although Foulkes bested Simmons-Stovall by only 435 votes in the general election, she won the runoff by more than 20 points.
Shortly after the 2012 remap turned Foulkes’ predominantly black 15th Ward into one of the Council’s newest Hispanic wards, Foulkes announced plans to challenge popular incumbent 16th Ward Ald. JoAnn Thompson. Tragically, Thompson died of heart failure less than a month before the general election, giving Foulkes a significant lead. Foulkes then bested Stephanie Coleman in a runoff, the daughter of former 17th Ward Ald. Shirley Coleman.
While Foulkes was elected to replace Thompson as Alderman in April 2015, the Cook County Democratic Party declined to appoint her Ward Democratic Committeeman when it met that spring to fill other vacancies. The vacancy came to head when Foulkes demanded appointment to the position so the ward could be represented for another appointment, the October replacement of the late State Rep. Sonya Harper. While the County Party appointed her to the position in October 2015, it proved harder for her to hold on to, as Stephanie Coleman returned for a rematch in March 2016. Coleman defeated Foulkes in a three-way match, 44-38%. It is widely expected Coleman will run against Foulkes for alderman again in 2019.
Ald. Foulkes is a member of the Progressive Caucus.
Current Chicago City Council Committees:
- Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics
- Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development
- Committee on Finance
- Committee on Health and Environmental Protection
- Committee on Human Relations
- Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards
Important Political Events
- 2007, Elected 15th Ward Alderman over open seat challenger Felicia Simmons-Stovall
- 2008, Elected 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman
- 2012, Resigns 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman seat, replaced by Raymond Lopez
- 2015, Elected 16th Ward Alderman, in open seat race defeating Stephanie Coleman
- 2015, Appointed 16th Ward Democratic Committeeman, replacing JoAnn Thompson
- 2016, Defeated for 16th Ward Democratic Committeeman by Stephanie Coleman