Ald. Ed Burke and former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan aren’t on the ballot this month — but the pair of indicted Southwest Side politicians loom large over three City Council races.
In the two-candidate contest to succeed Burke in the 14th Ward, Jeylú Gutiérrez — district director for Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya — faces Raul Reyes, a City Clerk’s office employee who once worked for Burke’s brother, former state Rep. Dan Burke, and also helped the longest serving City Council member in Chicago history gather signatures for his 2018 run.
Gutiérrez put her name into the ring even before Ed Burke opted out of what would have been another record-setting 15th term.
And in the nearby 13th and 23rd Wards, two incumbents — one who broke with Madigan and the other a longtime ally — are seeking reelection as residents’ whispers about the indicted former political powerhouse compete with the roar of the jets from nearby Midway Airport.
Burke has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of using his City Council seat to steer business to his private law firm amid schemes that involved the Old Post Office, a Burger King at 41st Street and Pulaski Road and a redevelopment project on the Northwest Side.
The ward — which encompasses parts of the Gage Park, Archer Heights, Brighton Park and Marquette Park neighborhoods — is now a Latino stronghold, with the political map dramatically redrawn last year to eliminate Burke’s most favorable precincts.
And Gutiérrez said she’s hearing plenty about Burke’s pending trial as she knocks on doors.
“They all know we’ve had a cloud over the 14th Ward. Everybody’s aware of the indictment and the legal process that he’s facing,” Gutiérrez said. “So, a lot of people tell me that they’re glad that that corruption is about to end, and they’re glad to see me doing the work because they’ve seen me through my work with Commissioner Anaya as her district director.”
Gutiérrez, who is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who is running for mayor, said she wants to focus on public safety, public services and education.
Reyes works in the city clerk’s audit and verification division, according to his campaign site. He is one of the founding members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation and is a member of the Mexican American Police Organization, among other organizations.
Reyes, who did not respond to requests for an interview, plans to focus on public safety, supporting small business, job creation, increasing funding for schools, providing summer jobs and increasing affordable housing, according to his campaign materials.
Longtime Madigan ally ‘running my own campaign’
In the neighboring 13th Ward, Ald. Marty Quinn faces Paul Bruton, a stay-at-home dad and former analyst at the Chicago Office of the Inspector General.
Quinn is seeking a fourth term — and he’s hoping his strength in city services, including free snow removal for the homes of 760 seniors, will help him win reelection once again.
Madigan was charged last year with a racketeering conspiracy and using interstate facilities for bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion, but has pleaded not guilty. He has served as the 13th Ward Democratic Organization’s committeeperson since 1969.
And money continues to flow to the ward’s political fund, including from labor unions and other allies.
Quinn told the Sun-Times Madigan still comes to the office space they share at 65th Avenue and Pulaski Road, “from time by time” — but Quinn was adamant that he hasn’t used any campaign funds raised by the former speaker.
“In terms of Speaker Madigan’s involvement in my campaign I haven’t used any 13th Ward money, and I’m running my own campaign,” Quinn said.
Quinn, first elected in 2011, said his priorities this time around include alleviating the overcrowding in schools on the Southwest Side and bridging the gap between educational opportunities between the North and South sides of Chicago.
“There’s still so much work that needs to be done because our kids are just as talented as other kids in the city of Chicago,” Quinn said. “They deserve that.”
Challenger Bruton said Madigan’s indictment prompted him to run.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who are fed up. And I think, you know, there is a chance here to make a difference,” Bruton said.“And I think now more than ever, the various indictments and things over the last couple of years has changed the tone a little bit of how this stuff works.”
Bruton said the reaction from voters in the ward about Madigan’s indictment “varies pretty widely,” with some residents able to “tolerate a certain amount of corruption.”
“There are people who only really care about those sort of nuts and bolts services. And when you’re trying to talk to them about public corruption, you know, that’s more abstract, and they’re less interested. I’ve really been trying to drive home the idea that look, if you’re worried about crime, you know, corruption is crime,” Bruton said.
If elected, Bruton said he plans to focus on public safety and policing, “neighborhood cleanliness,” among other issues.
Tabares sees Madigan fingerprints
In the adjacent 23rd Ward, former Madigan ally Ald. Silvana Tabares faces Eddie Guillen. A West Lawn resident, Guillen is a community organizer, small business owner and former chief of staff for state Rep. Angie Guerrero-Cuellar — who was appointed by Madigan to replace him after his resignation in 2021.
Tabares was initially appointed to her City Council seat by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel when Ald. Mike Zalewski retired in 2018. A state representative at the time, Tabares was a close Madigan ally.
But when Madigan relinquished his Illinois House seat, Tabares called for a “transparent” process in appointing his successor — and she didn’t vote for Madigan’s initial choice for the post.
Asked if she believes Madigan put Guillen up to run against her, Tabares said, “the facts speak for themselves.”
“He was on the payroll, and he has been receiving money from labor groups that are closely aligned with Madigan,” Tabares said.
Quinn told the Sun-Times he had nothing to do with Guillen’s run. Guillen did not respond to a request for an interview.
With many police officers living in her ward, Tabares has received the financial backing of the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police — and she counts public safety and reducing property taxes as her ward’s top priorities. Tabares said her ward residents “want an independent voice that’s going to speak for them at the City Council and at City Hall.”
“People are tired of the corruption, and our ward can’t afford that,” Tabares said. We want somebody that is going to speak up independently for their issues, and that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of years.”
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February 23, 2023 at 01:34PM