City releases list of aldermanic applicants

March 12, 2010 8:45:46 PM PST
The mayor's office has released the names of candidates who applied for the aldermanic openings in the 1st and 29th wards.

The city received a total of 97 applicants of which 59 were eligible to be considered. Eighteen applicants withdrew their names from consideration. The others did not meet state laws or were incomplete.

ABC7 news has obtained the resumes of dozens of people who have applied for the six-figure job. They are police officers, firefighters, ministers, people who are unemployed -- all interested in getting into city politics.

ABC7's legal tug of war with Mayor Daley and the City of Chicago ended Friday after three weeks.

The mayor put out the call for everyone to apply for the vacant seats in the 1st and 29th Wards. ABC7 wanted to find out who applied and asked for the applications. The city denied our request. So the attorney general's office stepped in, determining that the public, and therefore the media, should have access to these records. On Friday, before 5 p.m., the city handed the stack of applications over.

Bernard Cobbins, Jr. is one of the applicants. He wants to be the 29th Ward's alderman -- and so does his wife, Sherry.

"It's not a competition among us. But she is as qualified, as capable, as willing to serve as I am," said Bernard Cobbins.

The Cobbins' applications to Mayor Daley, along with 95 others for the 1st and 29th wards, are no longer secret documents. Friday, the City of Chicago released them after ABC7 filed a Freedom of Information request. The Cobbins say residents have a right to know who applied.

"If you're going to service the community, they need to know who you are and what you're about," said Sherry Cobbins.

Fifty nine applicants, including the Cobbins, actually met the legal requirements to do the job. Applicants must live in the ward, not owe the city money or be a convicted felon.

Alderman Isaac Carothers lost the job after pleading guilty to corruption charges. Alderman Bob Fioretti says it helps to have the applicants public.

Ward 1 is open because Alderman Manny Flores resigned to head the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Among the applicants for Wards 1 and 29 are educators; at least six applicants are teachers or work for the schools. There are City of Chicago employees, at least 5 Chicago cops or firefighters and three Community activists or ministers. There are at least three veterans. Two are in the financial industry. One is a state worker and another is a state legislator. And other applicants are unemployed.

"For me, it's a call to serve. It's a call to try to make a difference right here where we live," said Bernard Cobbins.

Other applicants may be familiar, like Rev. Marshall Hatch, pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. Or Jesse Ruiz, a lawyer who has served on various state boards.

For the Cobbins, the next step is an interview.

"I am expecting an interview with the mayor. Because I basically have those qualities he's looking for," said Sherry Cobbins.

Mayor Daley wanted the applications secret. He suggested people could lose their jobs if their employers knew they were applying.

The mayor has until March 16 to announce his selection for the 1st Ward. He's expected to announce the 29th Ward's alderman next month.