At the end of this past November, three of the fifty seats in Chicago's City Council stood empty. One of the aldermen, Ed Smith, retired; one, Thomas Allen, was appointed a judgeship; the third, Toni Preckwinkle, had was elected to be the next Cook County Board President.
So Mayor Daley, empowered to fill the vacancies until the February 22, 2011 city elections, did what any potential employer might do: he put up a "Help Wanted" sign and asked for resumes.
Turns out -- to the surprise of few -- that those without clout needed not apply.
Daley announced the appointments of the three replacement aldermen today, and all three have lengthy histories of political connection in the city.
Perhaps the most inoffensive of the appointments is Shirley Newsome, a 65-year-old community organizer in the Quad Communities who's worked to bring resources and attention to her troubled South Side neighborhood. She is the only one of the three appointees who isn't on the ballot in February -- that is, the only one who's not receiving a major de facto endorsement from the mayor.
Jason Ervin, on the other hand, will have a big leg up in his race thanks to his appointment. He's running to succeed Ed Smith, who has served as the 28th Ward Alderman since 1983. Smith hand-picked Ervin, the Maywood village manager, to replace him, and Daley simply followed the wishes of his longtime City Council ally, according to Austin Talks. As a newly minted incumbent with the backing of City Hall, Ervin will be tough to beat for his three opponents in the aldermanic election.
The biggest insider appointment was that of Tim Cullerton, who is replacing Thomas Allen in the 38th Ward. The Sun-Times shared some of the seat's history:
[Cullerton's] family has controlled the North Side ward almost continously since shortly before the Chicago Fire of 1871. His father was the longtime aldermen. His sister is the ward's Democratic committeeman. It's called "The Cullerton Seat," because a Cullerton has been in the City Council for 107 of the last 139 years.
Another clout tidbit that Early and Often mentions: Cullerton is also married to Ald. Allen's sister, who was a high-ranking official in Mayor Daley's Buildings Department.
Cullerton is also running for election in February, where he faces a crowded field of eight potential rivals.
But somehow, in that wonderful Chicago way, it's hard to imagine him losing.
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