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Politicians Angle To Fill City Council, County Board Of Review Vacancies

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This election season, candidates went door to door drumming up support for their political ambitions.

Now that the votes are in, many more politicos are heading to the back door, hoping to move up the ladder by winning over one very important vote.

With the results of November's elections and an unexpected retirement, three City Council seats and one seat on the County Board of Review are currently vacant. And plenty of politicians are already angling to win the much-coveted appointments.

On the city council, Toni Preckwinkle (4th) is leaving to take over as Cook County President, Tom Allen (38th) is headed to a Circuit Court judgeship and Ed Smith (28th) abruptly announced his resignation on November 13th.

As the Sun-Times reports, Mayor Daley is repeating the process he undertook early this year to fill two other vacancies: he's holding an "open casting call" for the post, accepting resumes from anyone and everyone.

But observers don't expect the posts to go to political novices. Instead, the aldermen themselves often have a good deal of say in who succeeds them.

For instance, some suggest that Smith resigned precisely in order to ensure his successor. There are ten people running for 28th Ward alderman in February's city elections, but Smith has endorsed longtime supporter Jason C. Ervin for the post, making it almost certain that Ervin will receive the appointment and giving him a significant advantage going into the election.

And the last time around, despite the mayor's claims to have interviewed 44 candidates, two political insiders and Daley supporters won the posts. Deborah Graham (29th) backed Daley's policies in the State House; Proco Moreno (1st) was aligned with the United Neighborhood Organization, a pro-Daley Hispanic group.

Look for Daley to use these last appointments as a way to leave his final stamp on the city council: with the forthcoming three, Daley will have appointed a total of 35 alderman during his tenure. Nineteen of the currently sitting 50 are Daley appointees.

On the County Board of Review, Joe Berrios won a convincing victory in the race for Cook County Assessor, leaving open his seat on the board that reviews the Assessor's property tax decisions.

Berrios intends to let Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans make the appointment, rather than resigning this week and making it himself. But there should be no doubt that Berrios and the Democratic Party he chairs will have a strong hand in guiding Evans' decision.

A separate Sun-Times story lists some of the names mentioned for the post:

Chicago aldermen Eugene Schulter and Pat O'Connor; outgoing Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno, who lost his bid for re-election in the February primary; Sam Toia, whose family owns a dozen Leona's restaurants; Frank Avila Jr., son of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner and a captain in the Army reserves currently on active duty; Patricia "PJ" Cullerton, committeeman for the Northwest Side's 38th Ward.

While Daley's City Council appointees will go before voters in February, the new member on the Board of Review won't be on the ballot until 2012.

But for all four seats, an appointment looks pretty sweet, compared to the hardships of a grueling campaign, so there will be plenty of back-door knocking before the process is over.