Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly said she has “heard from residents across the city” who disagree with renaming Outer Lake Shore Drive in honor of Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.
Now, downtown aldermen equally determined to block change have produced a poll in support of the mayor’s demand.
It shows that 41% oppose the name change – including 28% who strongly support it – compared to 32% of those polled who support the change, including 19% who strongly support the proposal.
Among the rest of the respondents, 24% are undecided and 3% refuse to answer.
The proposal to rename the Outer Drive was highest among African American respondents, but still below the majority – 48%, compared to 32% among Hispanics and 25% support among whites.
DuSable, who was black, was the first non-Native permanent settler in what is now Chicago.
The poll of 600 registered voters in Chicago was conducted June 3-4 by FAKO Research and Strategies. Aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Brendan Reilly (42nd) paid for the $12,000 cost with campaign funds. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.31 percentage points, so the difference between those opposing it and those supporting it is just outside that margin.
“We were both getting a lot of comments from people all over town not supporting the LSD name change. We wanted to see if this anecdotal evidence was indicative of broader public sentiment against the name change,” Reilly wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.
“The poll confirmed that our suspicions were correct: Most Chicagoans oppose the name change… Nearly 7 in 10 Chicago voters currently do not support the Lake Shore Drive name change. In fact, the measure doesn’t even garner 50% support from a single demographic group or region of the city. »
Reilly has previously argued that the name change will require a “long and costly solution” for “tens of thousands” of Chicago voters and will have “expensive implications” for businesses, police and firefighters.
But Ald. David Moore (17th), who joined Ald. Sophia King (4th) in defending the name change, said the combined cost to the city, state and CTA to change signs, maps and schedules is $2.5 million.
Neither Moore nor Hopkins could be reached for comment on the poll Monday, but King responded to the survey results with a snide tweet at Hopkins.
“At the beginning, you were opposed only because your constituents had to change their address. Now that’s not the case, you’re offering a paid survey to tell you what you want to hear,” King tweeted.
Reilly noted that the city had previously honored DuSable by naming Michigan Avenue Bridge as DuSable Bridge; install the DuSable bust on the Mag Mile; DuSable Harbor; DuSable High School; the DuSable Museum; and soon, the construction of DuSable Park.
“The supporters of the Drive name change are passionate about their mission and I commend them for it. However, the poll shows that most Chicagoans don’t share their vision,” Reilly wrote.
“I hope the mayor and city council can find another option to properly honor Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable as the founder of our city.”
Last month, an eleventh-hour parliamentary maneuver temporarily derailed the name change plan.
Moore accused Lightfoot’s administration of trying to block the ordinance with an alternative he sees as having “racial overtones” – renaming the Dan Ryan Freeway to DuSable instead.
Lightfoot also proposed spending $40 million to complete DuSable Park, establish an annual “DuSable Festival,” rename the downtown Riverwalk in DuSable’s honor, and install monuments, sculptures, and other public works. public art and educational exhibits honoring DuSable.
King told the Sun-Times last week that the mayor’s offer does not replace a name change. She argued that the votes were there last month in support of the name change and will be there when the city council meets again next week to move forward in the face of fierce objections from Lightfoot.
“Finding $45 million for not renaming Outer Lake Shore Drive… is kind of insulting. It sounds like some of the same historical obstacles. … It really highlights the inequality in this city,” King said.
Lightfoot worries that renaming Chicago’s most iconic and scenic boulevard — made famous in song and movies — will hurt the city’s marketing and be costly and time-consuming for homeowners and businesses.
King doesn’t buy it.
She noted that the same arguments were made before Congress Parkway was renamed Ida B. Wells after Italian Americans blocked plans to rename Balbo Drive for Wells, a crusading journalist and civil rights leader.
“As a black woman, you should understand that and know better,” King said of Lightfoot.
“On this day of reckoning with black people and really trying to understand our history and resisting all the racial barriers of the past, it would be the perfect time to say that Chicago is a diverse city and we celebrate diversity and we understand that ‘it only makes us stronger. And, oh by the way, it was our founder, who happened to be black.