Patricia Dowell

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Patricia Dowell

b. May 13, 1957

Chicago, 3rd Ward Alderman (2007-)
Chicago, 3rd Ward Democratic Committeeman (2008-)

3rd Ward Map

Clout and Influence

Dowell was one of the many African-American independents who played supporting roles in Mayor Harold Washington's dismantling of machine politics. A graduate of University of Chicago, Dowell was a leading volunteer in then-challenger Dorothy Tillman's 1985 contentious campaign for 3rd Ward Alderman. Following Tillman's victory, Dowell slipped into the Washington administration as a city planner and then led numerous projects to improve her community, Bronzeville, located in the 3rd Ward.

Over the subsequent twenty years Tillman, who was famous for her flamboyance, became more dramatic, less independent and less popular in the Ward. The 3rd Ward, once home to poverty-stricken projects like Stateway Gardens and The Gap - home to both Otis Redding and some of the worst slums in the city - became home in the 1990's to a new black gentrification in Bronzeville and slum clearance in The Gap. Tillman's loud defense of the disenfranchised was suddenly out of step with a new generation of African-American young professionals who bought old brownstones and rehabbed them to the grandeur of the 1800's.

Dowell first began running against Tillman in 2002, running a shoestring, quixotic campaign. But despite a crowded field, Dowell earned enough votes to be noticed. The electoral playing field dramatically changed in 2005 when Tillman voted with Mayor Richard M. Daley and against Labor on the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance. Labor pledged to take down Tillman, and Dowell became their candidate.

Suddenly the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Organized Labor's manpower, as well as Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s endorsement, Dowell drove Tillman to a runoff in 2007, and then to defeat. Then, in 2008, despite opposition from State Rep. Kenneth Dunkin, who was supported by 27th Ward Democratic Committeeman and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Dowell was soundly elected 3rd Ward Democratic Committeeman.

Due to the extraordinary support of Organized Labor and Cong. Jackson, Dowell has had the freedom to oppose Mayor Daley more than most aldermen. The most visible opposition came when she was the sole opposition vote (44 to 1) in the hiring of Jody Weis, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nominee to lead the Chicago Police Department in early 2008. Dowell also crossed swords in 2008 with the two Aldermen to her south, Ald. Leslie Hairston (4th Ward) and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (5th Ward) when she opposed their handpicked candidate for State Representative, William Burns, by supporting Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s candidate, Kenny Johnson.

Employment and Electoral History

One time city planner and Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood Planning under Mayors Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer and Richard Daley. Recently and until she was elected, she was executive director of Near West Side Community Development Corporation.

Current Chicago City Council Committees:

  • Committees, Rules and Ethics
  • Health
  • Historical Landmark Preservation
  • Housing and Real Estate
  • Transportation and Public Way


  • University of Rochester, B.A., Developmental Psychology
  • University of Chicago, M.A., Social Service Administration

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