Roderick Sawyer

February 24, 2023

Kailey Ryan

Roderick Sawyer is a longtime Chicago City Council member, elected in 2011 to serve as alderman of the 6th Ward, which encompasses neighborhoods on the city’s far south side.

His father, the late Eugene Sawyer, was selected mayor of Chicago in 1987 following the death of the city’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington. Eugene Sawyer served until 1989. He lost his election bid to Richard M. Daley.

A lawyer, Roderick Sawyer is the leader of the Chicago City Council Black Caucus.

Crime and Public Safety

On Jan. 11, Sawyer released his public safety plan, which he claims will immediately reduce crime and improve safety in all Chicago neighborhoods.

Sawyer told The Chicago Circular his plan is to add more police officers and resources while reforming the department to be more equitable.

He is working to bring in new officers by offering fully vested pension plans after 20 years of service but emphasizes that officers can stay on duty past 20 years.

Economic Development

During an ABC-7 debate on Jan. 19, Sawyer spoke about the recent closures of businesses downtown due to the pandemic. He said resident’s anxieties about crime and safety are causing them to go out less.

In addition, Sawyer said he wants to create a low-cost or no-cost loan program to help purchase and redevelop vacant lots around Chicago.


Sawyer said one of the biggest problems is the density bonuses given to developers downtown, not because of money, but because they are being forced to build properties close to each other.

For example, Sawyer said, developers are trying to build affordable housing in the Fulton Market area, but there are many empty lots that can be used in Englewood, East Garfield Park and Lawndale.


At a Jan. 28 mayoral forum at the University of Illinois Chicago, Sawyer said he would advocate for coordination between the CTA Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation to create more bus lanes.

He also would address:

  • homeless people who use trains as shelters by training CTA employees to connect people with housing and social services.
  • advocate for Slow Streets, which demands pedestrian zones around Chicago. 


Sawyer said he supports closing under-enrolled Chicago schools. “Our most severely under-enrolled schools simply can’t carry on at these zombie institutions,” Sawyer told WBEZ. “What kind of experience are these children getting if their school doesn’t have a single sports program, a debate club, a theater club or any of the traditional extracurriculars that help kids develop lifelong passions and social skills?”