'Honor of a lifetime': Aurora City Council appoints Tolliver to 7th Ward seat

Aurora City Council members have appointed Brandon Tolliver as the new alderman of the 7th Ward.

At 34, Tolliver is now the youngest member of the city council.

Born and raised on Aurora's west side, Tolliver was Mayor Richard Irvin's choice to fill a seat left vacant when longtime Alderwoman Scheketa Hart-Burns, 68, died on June 19. The city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve Irvin's appointment of Tolliver.

"I know Alderwoman Hart-Burns, if she were here today, would approve of him sitting in her seat," Irvin said.

Remembered as a trailblazer, Hart-Burns in 1991 became the first Black person elected to the Aurora City Council.

Hart-Burns had been a ubiquitous presence at ribbon-cuttings, festivals and other community events during her 32-year tenure on the council. She hosted the annual back-to-school bash at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park and worked with the Kane County Health Department on efforts to prevent premature births.

Tolliver will serve out the remainder of the late alderwoman's term through the next general election in 2025.

"This is a surreal honor of a lifetime," Tolliver said Wednesday in an announcement of his appointment. "I look forward to serving the residents and businesses of Ward 7 as we build upon the legacy of Alderwoman Hart-Burns and forge a new path toward a bright future for the ward and our city."

Growing up, Tolliver attended Hall Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School and West Aurora High School.

As a young person, Tolliver developed a worldview of community service and civic responsibility, Irvin said. He was involved in several Aurora-based youth programs, including Illinois Math and Science Academy's summer initiatives, the Boys II Men mentoring group and the Voices for Excellence community youth choir.

Tolliver received his bachelor's degree in political science with a concentration in public law and policy from Northern Illinois University.

For the past decade, he's built his career in the insurance industry. He is currently a commercial construction underwriter for the Hartford Insurance Group, where he's "integrally involved with multimillion-dollar construction projects," Irvin said.

Tolliver has lived in the ward's Georgetown neighborhood since 2019.

Tolliver was privately sworn in by the city clerk, allowing him to begin his new aldermanic duties immediately. A formal public swearing-in ceremony will be held in downtown Aurora at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19.

A total of 14 people - eight men and six women - applied for the vacant seat. Irvin narrowed the list to six finalists: Tolliver, East Aurora District 131 school board member Alex Arroyo, John "Drew" Eddy, Cynthia Gamboa, Anderson Lee and Diana Barajas-Gonzalez. Cowherd Middle School Principal Jacqueline Gibson was also a finalist, but she withdrew because of a conflict between the city council's schedule and classes for her doctoral degree.

"Brandon is focused, committed, and ready to jump in with both feet, bringing new ideas and vision to Ward 7," Irvin said.

The ward includes neighborhoods south of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad line.

Brandon Tolliver assumes the 7th Ward city council seat held by the late Alderwoman Scheketa Hart-Burns for 32 years. Courtesy of the city of Aurora
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.