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Opinion: Appointments Are A Good Deal for Mayor, Alderman, Not Voters

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Opinion: Appointments Are A Good Deal for Mayor, Alderman, Not Voters

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I think we can all agree that mayoral appointments to the City Council are an outrage against democracy and the concept of separation of powers between an executive and a legislature. And if you don’t think they’re an outrage, imagine how you’d feel if Gov. Pat Quinn were allowed to fill vacancies in the General Assembly with handpicked legislators, or if President Obama could appoint senators.

Appointments also enable aldermen to pass their seats on to handpicked successors, without involving voters in the succession. That’s what Dick Mell did this week, when he resigned and persuaded Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appoint his daughter, Deb. Without that guarantee, would he have served the entire term to which he’d been elected? Maybe.
 
Appointments are a good deal for the mayor, who gets an alderman who owes him something. They’re also a good deal for the alderman, who gets an elected office without having to campaign for election and use the term “incumbent” when it’s time to run. Nearly a third of the aldermen were appointed to the City Council. Here they are, and how they fared after their appointments. 
 
Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st Ward: Appointed 2010, elected to full term in 2011.
Natashia Holmes, 7th Ward: Appointed 2013, up for election in 2015
Michelle Harris, 8th Ward: Appointed 2006, elected to full terms in 2007 and 2011.
James Balcer, 11th Ward: Appointed 1997, elected to full terms in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Latasha Thomas, 17th Ward: Appointed 2000, elected to full terms in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Lona Lane, 18-th Ward: Appointed 2006, elected to full terms in 2007 and 2011.
Ricardo Munoz, 22nd: Appointed 1993, elected to full terms in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Daniel Solis, 25th: Appointed 1996, elected to full terms in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Roberto Maldonado, 26th: Appointed 2009, elected to a full term in 2011.
Jason Ervin, 28th: Appointed 2011, up for election in 2015.
Deborah Graham, 29th: Appointed 2010, elected to a full term in 2011.
Deb Mell, 33rd: Appointed 2013, up for election in 2015.
Carrie Austin, 34th: Appointed 1994, elected to full terms in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Timothy Cullerton, 38th: Appointed 2011, elected to a full term that year.
Margaret Laurino, 39th: Appointed 1994, elected to full terms in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2011.
Tom Tunney, 44th: Appointed 2002, elected to full terms in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

In recent memories, there are only two examples of aldermanic appointees who didn’t win their next elections. In 1990, 49th Ward Ald. David Orr was elected Cook County Clerk. Daley couldn’t stand Orr, an independent who was one of the few white aldermen to side with Harold Washington during Council Wars. Orr wanted Daley to appoint Joe Moore, a lawyer in the corporation counsel’s office. Instead, Daley appointed Bob Clarke, who practiced law in the same office as 49th Ward committeeman Lee Preston. Soon after, Moore beat Clarke with Orr’s backing. He didn’t owe Daley a thing, and went on to become a pain in the mayor’s ass for the next 21 years.
 
In 2006, Ald. William Beavers was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Daley appointed Beavers’s daughter, Darcel, but she was defeated by Sandi Jackson, a member of a more prominent political family.

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