Ed Burke reflects after 45 years as alderman

The Dean of Chicago's City Council, Alderman Ed Burke is marking a milestone in his political career
March 10, 2014 10:00:00 PM PDT
The Dean of Chicago's City Council - Alderman Ed Burke is marking a milestone in his political career.

After more than four decades, Alderman Burke takes some time to take a look back.

The 70-year-old Alderman remembered March 11th, 1969, when he took the 14th Ward seat. In the Chicago way, the 25-year-old police officer traded on the good name of his Alderman father Joseph Burke, who died in office the previous year.

Since then, he has survived politically as his ward underwent a near total transformation.

''Es muy importante hablar espanol ahora in Districte 14,'' said Burke.

The once white-ethnic 14th is now predominantly Mexican American. Alderman George Cardenas of the neighboring 12th Ward explained the basic reason Burke has held on.

''He has a great team and a great organization that takes care of basic services,'' Alderman Cardenas said.

Alderman Burke, one of the Vrdolyak 29 during the racially-charged 1980s, has raised an African American son, adopted 18 years ago with his wife, Supreme Court Justice Ann Burke.

''I think I've become less strident, more open to other people's opinions,'' Burke said.

But Attorney Burke has no patience for critics who say he uses his council power to help his lucrative law business.

''It's annoying because it's simply not true,'' Burke said.

Burke has served under eight mayors, Richard J. Daley being his favorite.

But did Burke ever consider running for the 5th floor himself?

''The timing wasn't right and do I have any regrets? Absolutely not. I've enjoyed what I've done,'' Burke said.

Alderman Burke said he's lucky to be feeling great as far as his physical health goes. He said he 'absolutely' plans to stand for re-election next year.

There was a big party for him Tuesday evening at the City Club.

Politicians, business, civic leaders and assorted big shots honoring Ed Burke who also is an accomplished Chicago historian and author.


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