Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Elections 2023: Timmy Knudsen discusses run for office and last-minute appointment
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 2294 times since Tue Feb 28, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28

Attorney Timmy Knudsen was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot this past fall to replace former Ald. Michelle Harris, who was leaving her post representing the city's 43rd Ward on the City Council. A longtime backer of Lightfoot, Knudsen, a corporate lawyer, was previously head of the City's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Windy City Times caught up with Knudsen and spoke about his overall concerns for the ward, his fast initiation in the job, and running a campaign while he's been learning the ropes.

(Editor's note: Smith has endorsed opponent Wendi Taylor Nations in the Feb. 28 race. After this interview, Nations criticized an ad placed on Knudsen's behalf by the Illinois Realtors Fund and alleged that, given his post on the ZBA, was closely tied to developer's interests. In response to those comments, Knudsen's campaign maintained that they had not coordinated with IRF for the ad, and iterated that 43rd Ward constituents were focused more on public safety and rising property taxes as the election loomed.)

WCT: What have the last several months been like as you have entered office in the proverbial thick of things?

Timmy Knudsen: I'm grateful for them, in the sense that I didn't have the luxury of a slow orientation. I found out I was appointed, and 36 hours later, I was handed the key. I went to the ward office and I met everyone. You have this ward office, ready and waiting for you. I do like that. I got thrown into the deep end, as far as a learning style. That's kind of how I learned how to lawyer as well—it doesn't come with total comfort.

It really helps me get close with the team. I have a new chief of staff, who was elevated. He was on staff, but he was leading our public safety [work] previously. We work well together—he's part of the LGBTQ community as well. That office is now functioning so highly. I know that I'm a bit different from my predecessor, so I'm glad the transition went the way it did.

WCT: What has it been like to start this job while running for office at the same time—which leads into the obvious question of why you think you are the best choice for this post?

TK: When we applied to the appointment—there were 17 of us—I said to everyone that I was running either way. I was the first person out with petitions. Those went amazingly.

The best thing I can do is do a good job as alderman, even on the campaign side—the results I bring, the show of [my] personality, and how I do the job. The campaign is a unique experience for a first-time candidate—you campaign and separately govern. There are a lot of new things attached to it.

I feel energized by it, but there are moments where I ask, "Oh my gosh, how are things done now?" These are things that come with leadership. These are things that are not meant to be easy jobs.

WCT: How do you perceive the ward? What do you see as some strengths of the 43rd Ward as well as some of the challenges you want to tackle?

TK: We've got such leadership in our ward. I always know from our newsletter that we are truly a ward of resources, and that is something not to take for granted. I'm trying to communicate in a way that shows the things I'm grateful for.

For 43rd Ward voters, the big topics are public safety and fiscal stability. I wholeheartedly agree, and that's what we're running on. I think these two issues touch every single person in the city of Chicago, in a thoughtful way.

I liked that in the ward we have all these people that want to be involved, that view the issues with nuance, because public safety is not black and white, because that is not a healthy approach. We got on public safety pretty quickly. We invested extra infrastructure money into the cameras; that was leaning on experts [to determine] it was a good way to deter crime in the ward.

The main reason that I've only ever lived in the 43rd Ward is that our parks are incredible. Since I don't have an actual outdoor space at my home, I use the heck out of the actual park in Lincoln Park. A lot of other people do to, and that's a gift that is truly for everyone and the city. I want it opened up so that everyone knows that Lincoln Park is accessible for everybody. You've a got a ton of museums right there—cultural institutions—that we're very grateful for.

WCT: You mentioned fiscal stability earlier—how would you define that for the ward?

TK: I started my role as alderman in budget season. It was kind of, at the time, like you were in the 'war season.' Budget season has you downtown every day. That was my crash-course orientation. What I really took from that was we had this big budget, a successful budget, but a lot of that was due to an influx of federal funds. So now we're looking into next year's, and the years to come. It's a huge win that we made the $240 million advance payment on pensions. That increased our credit rating and saved us hundreds of millions of dollars long term. We've got to be increasing that credit rating.

But now, in future years, when we won't necessarily have this massive influx of federal dollars, we've got to look at inefficiencies, in every department. It just can't be "bigger is better." That doesn't work for any business—big business or small business—and definitely not government. Looking at that and putting on my legal hat—I'm a corporate lawyer by background—it's truly about looking for those inefficiencies. … Are there routes for us to maintaining the route that we're on to more rating upgrades?

WCT: Have you met with Ald. Smith at all since you came in?

TK: During the appointment process she came in and met my family. It was great. But what I would say is this: I activated the staff. I have not lost the staff, and I wanted to build trust with them. They were put in a position of surprise. They're human beings with jobs that they work really hard at. So this in-between period where there's no alderman, I felt very strongly about just coming in and showing my cards—showing who I am, talk to them one-on-one, [and reassure them] I'm not someone to surprise them.

WCT: How has COVID impacted the ward?

TK: The two communities it has affected most are our students and our seniors.

We've got a big Lincoln Park high school that nine wards feed into. I love that. They've got a new principal too, and the spirit is so high in the student body, but there was such a disruption. So student leaders standing up and leading initiatives and awesome events deserve kudos. That takes such courage and motivation when you are coming out of something [such as the pandemic].

We have five CHA homes in the ward. The 44th Ward, for example, just has one. We have much more subsidized housing and senior-assisted housing. Talking to those seniors, isolation is already really hard, and then you talk about isolation in Chicago among these seniors. There are periods of the year where you just can't go outside. So I've been trying to plan events with community-groups, and champion the churches and non-profits that do that kind of work.

WCT: What are your thoughts on development in a ward? How do you balance the need for affordability with the need for healthy growth?

TK: What I've learned is that truly there is no one-size-fits all recipe. We have portions of the ward that I really want to get more units into. I want to get more affordable units and I want to get more density. We have vacant storefront strips that are also a public safety concern. We all know that in these dark areas in commercial districts, they can attract some safety concerns.

I live in Old Town Triangle, and that's in somewhat of a preservation district. No one is asking for development there, right? We've got a developed lakefront right next to it, and people feel strongly about the preservation. I think there's a good balance to be had in the ward.

When I talk about it, I try to talk about housing, because Lincoln Park has this unfortunate history, that a lot of the city shares, about being resistant to affordable housing. A lot of times, there's a misunderstanding about what affordable units even are—they're based on a percentage of the median income of the area. … We're a ward that hasn't had enough affordable units put in, but it needs it so the people who work here can afford to live here. It's something I feel passionate about; when developments come in, the 20% affordable units should go onsite and not be sent out to other parts of the city.

WCT: What have people been telling you about the affordability issues?

TK: People have been really surprised by the rise in property taxes. We've got to be creative in filling in budget gaps that don't just hit homeowners. … When I think of my overarching goal as an alderman, it's my goal to get people to move here. There's the accessibility bit there—not only can you afford the housing, but can you afford to live here too? That touches on the schools, the CTA and many other things. Getting people to stay and invest here means we can't just go down the slippery slope of more property taxes.

WCT: What are the most pertinent issues for LGBTQ+ residents of the ward?

TK: I was talking a few weeks ago about the City's, and the nation's, response to Mpox. We got our numbers down, but it was just a reminder of the unique issues that we can have in the LGBTQ community.

My experience was not being able to find a shot. I weighed whether or not to go line up at one of the bars that had negotiated to get some shots. Finally I got one right before Market Days at Truman College. I still didn't go to Market Days—I was just nervous. There was this whole feeling in the community: "We just went through a pandemic. Why is this not working?"

Protecting public health is important, as is continuing to push—like we did in Council—further legislation on bodily autonomy and gender-affirming care. We really have to push that. When we talk about our city as a sanctuary city, I view it [as needing to be] a safe space, where we're protected, and health is the first thing that comes to mind for me when I think of that.

WCT: I just have to ask: What was it like to go on House Hunters (Knudsen appeared on that HGTV program just prior to the pandemic)?

TK: It was so fun. It was my first home purchase. It's no secret to anybody that it's kind of a rigged show—I already owned the place.

It was a great break. I was at a big law firm at the time, and I thought it would be different. I did it with a friend who was a Realtor. They had me riding on the Lakefront on a Divvy with him—they totally tried to make it look like we were dating. In real life, he was dating my best friend. My friend was just like, "They have to make a story, go to town with it." It was a fun experience.

See .

This article shared 2294 times since Tue Feb 28, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

Q FORCE launches 2024 election efforts in Chicago 2024-04-14
- More than 100 people attended the launch of 2024 election efforts by Q FORCE Midwest Action Group at Sidetrack April 12. Q FORCE is a Chicago-based, all-volunteer, grassroots movement organizing to recruit and activate "at least ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Trans woman killed, Tenn. law, S. Carolina coach, Evan Low, Idaho schools 2024-04-12
- Twenty-four-year-old Latina trans woman and makeup artist Meraxes Medina was fatally shot in Los Angeles, according to the website them, citing The Los Angeles Times. Authorities told the Times they found Medina's broken fingernail and a ...

Gay News

LPAC, Arizona LGBTQ officials denounce Arizona Supreme Court ruling on abortion 2024-04-10
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Yesterday, in a decision that starkly undermines reproductive freedoms, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to enforce a 160-year-old law that criminalizes abortion and penalizes healthcare providers who ...

Gay News

Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison announces inaugural Cook County LGBTQ+ Youth Art Competition 2024-04-10
--From a press release - Schaumburg, Ill. — April 9, 2024 — Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison recently announced the firs ever LGBTQ+ Youth Art Competition. The competition's theme is "Pride is Power!" and will set the ton for Pride celebrations ...

Gay News

For Deb Robertson, the end-of-life issue is very real 2024-04-07
- For just about everyone, life is hard enough. However, talking about ending that life—especially when one is terminally ill—is just as difficult. Ten states have authorized medical aid in dying, although Illinois is not one of ...

Gay News

KFF survey shows extent of LGBT-related discrimination 2024-04-07
- KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling and journalism—released "LGBT Adults' Experiences with Discrimination and Health Care Disparities: Findings from the KFF Survey of Racism, Discrimination, and Health." This ...

Gay News

Lightfoot may be hired to investigate Dolton mayor, trustees 2024-04-06
- A group of Dolton trustees is aiming to hire former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot—who is also an ex-federal prosecutor—to investigate Mayor Tiffany Henyard, media outlets reported. The group wants Lightfoot ...

Gay News

NATIONAL mpox, Trans+ Day of Visibility, police items, Best Buy, Gentili's death 2024-04-05
- The CDC has concluded that mpox cases are on the rise in the United States, increasing to almost double what they were at the same time last year, according to ABC News. There is a national year-to-date estimate of 511 cases ...

Gay News

Ugandan court mostly upholds harsh anti-LGBTQ+ law 2024-04-04
- On April 3, Uganda's constitutional court refused to annul or suspend an anti-LGBTQ+ law that includes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, Reuters reported. However, the judicial body voided some provisions that it said were ...

Gay News

How safe are we really? A look into Illinois' LGBTQ+ protections as hate rises nationwide 2024-04-02
- Illinois has long been known to have some of the strongest LGBTQ+ legal protections in the country. Its first anti-discrimination laws go back several decades, and the state boasts a wide variety of protections of LGBTQ+ ...

Gay News

Q Force initiative looks to 'save democracy' by getting out the vote 2024-04-01
- The Q Force Midwest Force Action Group initiative wants to save democracy-and they've hit the ground running to ensure President Biden wins reelection this November. The initiative of LGBTQ+ organizers and volunteers seeks to invigorate voters ...

Gay News

Chicago's transgender community kicks off Transgender Week of Visibility with daylong conference, resource fair 2024-03-30
- Transgender community leaders, allies and politicians kicked off a weeklong celebration of transgender visibility in Chicago with a one-day conference and resource fair. More than 100 community members attended the ...

Gay News

White House issues proclamation on 2024 Transgender Day of Visibility 2024-03-29
- A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: On Transgender Day of Visibility, we honor the extraordinary courage and contributions of transgender Americans and reaffirm our Nation's commitment to forming a more perfect ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Political candidates, flag controversy, HRC gala, New York Times, Disney 2024-03-29
- In California, of the historic 30 LGBTQ+ legislative candidates who ran in the March 5 primary, more than half are moving on to the fall ballot, The Bay Area Reporter noted. Based on the still unofficial ...

Gay News

Thailand parliament passes landmark marriage bill 2024-03-27
- On March 27, Thailand's parliament approved a marriage-equality bill by an overwhelmingly large margin—a landmark step that moves one of Asia's most liberal countries closer to legalizing same-sex unions, media ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.