Dec 5, 2022 - Politics

Walter Burnett takes over as Chicago's longest-serving alderperson

Photo of men talking at a city council meeting.

Ald. Walter Burnett (left) talks with Ald. Ed Burke in 2016. Photo: Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

👋 Hi, it's Justin! Now that Ald. Ed Burke (14th) is not running for re-election, politicos are wondering who'll become the council's elder spokesperson.

Why it matters: Burke is the latest veteran alderperson to bow out, creating a brain drain of experience and political knowledge.

  • Burke frequently started meetings by regaling his colleagues with stories of Chicago's political past.
  • Now, only 9 alders in the next council are expected to remain from the days of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who retired in 2011.
Longest serving current Chicago alderpeople
Data: Axios research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: With Burke and others exiting, the mantle of elder alder will go to Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), who began his tenure in 1995.

  • He's running unopposed for re-election.

Flashback: Burnett stands to become not just the longest-serving alder, but also one of the last with a political lineage to the Chicago machine.

What they're saying: "The good thing about being around for some time is that I have many relationships with people who work in City Hall," Burnett tells Axios.

  • "I always like to know everyone from the janitors to the bosses."
  • "The best thing is that I’m not old yet," says Burnett, 59.

Of note: The Sun-Times recently investigated Burnett in connection with $300,000 in missing campaign funds.

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