CHICAGO (WLS) -- For the first time in more than 50 years Ed Burke will not be on the ballot for Chicago alderman, and he is being both praised and criticized for his legacy.
Burke left his Gage Park home Tuesday morning, one day after the deadline passed to file petitions to run again for 14th Ward alderman.
His decision not to run surprised some of his City Hall colleagues.
"It's an icon leaving city hall," said Ald. Ariel Reboyras, who is retiring from the 30th Ward post he has held for two decades. "Figure he's been around for a long time, knows the ins and outs, it's like losing a set of encyclopedias with the knowledge Alderman Burke has."
Burke is the longest-serving member of the city council. He was first elected in 1969. But his Southwest Side ward has changed, and after the 2020 census was remapped so it's now majority Hispanic.
"I think it's great if we get him out of there. I also think he would have lost this time, and I think he might be smart enough not to want to suffer that humiliation," said David Orr, former alderman and Cook County Clerk.
Orr served on the city council during the 1980s, during the infamous "Council Wars" after Harold Washington was elected mayor. During the wars, a majority of white aldermen, led by Burke and others, blocked Washington at every move.
"Well the thing about Ed Burke, he's probably kind of the best example of the worst of the Democratic Machine," Orr said.
"Harold was very direct that he thought that Ed Burke was an out and out racist," said Jacky Grimshaw, who served in Harold Washington's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs as the liaison to the city council. She has always hoped for a Burke mea culpa at anniversaries of Washington's birthday or death.
"For him to say, you know, he made a mistake in opposing Mayor Washington and if he had to do it over again he wouldn't have done it," Grimshaw said.
But Walter Burnett, who's been on the city council 27 years, said Burke deservers a lot of thanks from Chicago. He credits Burke with helping launch his political career.
"I used to be a young Democrat in the early '90s. Ed helped me become chairman of the Young Democrats and so like I said, he has helped a lot of people," said the 27th Ward alderman.
Burke has not responded to requests for an interview and has given no reason for why he's not running again. His city council career will come to a close next May, which will give him time to prepare for his federal racketeering trial which is set to begin next November.