39th Ward Alderman Marge Laurino reflects on City Hall career

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's 39th Ward is getting a new alderman for the first time in more than two decades. The change means a family dynasty of more than 50 years is coming to a close. I talked to Marge Laurino about her final month in office.

"Well it's a little on the weepy side to tell you the truth because I'm actually taking down all the plaques and the thank you's from almost 25 years worth of accumulating this stuff," Laurino said from her Northwest Side office, as she reflected her career in Chicago City Hall.

Last August she announced she would not be running for reelection. I asked her what she will miss the most.

"The people, the people the fact that I get to talk to people about all their issues and then I have an opportunity as an elected official to actually move those issues forward and try to resolve the problems," Laurino said as we walked along a street filled with bungalows around the corner from her office.

Laurino was appointed to the job by Mayor Richard M. Daley. She succeeded her father Anthony who resigned in 1994 and was later charged in a ghost pay rolling scheme He died before going to trial.

Laurino points to a $70 million retention tunnel built to alleviate flooding in Albany Park as one proud moment, as well as getting legislation passed to require ethics and sexual harassment prevention training in city government.

"Certainly I want to thank each and every one of you for allowing me to be the President Pro Tem," Laurino told her city hall colleagues during her final city council meeting last week.

"It's tough to leave but you know what, it's time," Laurino said back in her office. Why was it time?

"It's time because I've been through six elections all right almost 25 years and I think that that's sufficient you don't want to stay too long," Laurino said. "Did I see the writing on the wall as far as how things went for the election? I can't say that I did. I looked back and I think well maybe I saw elements of a change election."

"It's hard to believe we're not going to be here anymore," Laurino said reflecting on the changing of the guard, as her family's 50+ year legacy leading the 39th Ward comes to a close. "But I have all the confidence in the Alderman elect, Samantha Nugent, I think she is going to do a great job."

"I'm incredibly excited it's an honor, this is a really big deal I'm looking forward to representing the residence of the 39th Ward," said Samantha Nugent. We caught up with her between meetings as she prepares to take office next month.

Nugent, a former chief of staff for the Cook County Department of Homeland Security, talked about her priorities.

"It's always been about Public Safety, it's about making sure that we have enough officers and the 39th Ward and that they are working with the community," Nugent said. "And if we have safe streets, We have good city services and good schools and economic development will follow."

Laurino's advice for her successor?

"I would say take it slow you are not going to know the answers to all the questions, immediately I would say make sure you get out there in the neighborhood and meet the people," Laurino said.

Which is exactly what Nugent has been doing.

"Being accessible and being out in the community is a huge priority for me, I'm out there all the time. I'm actually a marathon runner I literally run through the neighborhood every day and that's my way of learning the streets and meeting with people and that's a top priority," Nugent said.

Laurino' s retirement plans including spending time with her two grandchildren and teaching a college class on city government. Nugent will be sworn into office May 20.
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