Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Chicago City Council: Edward M. Burke

14th Ward Alderman Edward M. Burke

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward)

    How much power can one man have as an alderman? Just ask Edward M. Burke, chairman of the Finance Committe, and legacy politician extraordinaire.

    Dubbed by many as the most powerful alderman in Chicago, Burke has influence and power over many important aspects of Chicago politics.

    Background: Edward M. Burke, 63, has lived in Chicago his entire life. As the son of a Chicago police officer and 14th Ward Alderman, Burke developed an interest for civic work early. He attend DePaul University receiving a degree in Juris Doctor in Law. He served as a Chicago cop from 1965-1968. Shortly after, he became the 14th Ward Democratic Committeeman at the age of 25. He was elected as 14th Ward Alderman in 1969, following in his father's footsteps. He has served for more than three decades.

    He made his legend by teaming up with a powerful bloc of aldermen in the 1980s who opposed Mayor Harold Washington, and engineered an era in Chicago politics called: Council Wars.

    Today, Burke is involved with many public and private organizations such as: the Chicago Plan Commission, One Hundred Club of Cook County, Knights of Columbus, Irish Fellowship of Chicago, Military Order of the World Wars, Back of Yards Businessmen's Association and Honorary Director of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Board. Burke is also a law partner at Klafter & Burke. He is married to Anne M. Burke of the Illinois Supreme Court.

    The Ward: Like most neighborhoods in the southwest area of Chicago, the 14th Ward started as a home to many immigrants and is still considered an immigrant neighborhood today. The area was made up of Lithuanians, Eastern Europeans and Irish descendants, and still holds a strong cultural influence of those traditions. The neighborhoods of Marquette Park and Gage Park now have a growing population of Hispanics.

    The Office: Edward Burke has held his office since 1969, despite its dramatic changes in population. Ald. Burke doesn't appear to be in trouble of losing that seat anytime soon. He ran unopposed in the last election. Burke, over his time, has held onto immense power and influence. He is a big advocate of the police force.

    He is also the Chairman of the Finance Committee, a powerful seat that he has held since the late '80s. Burke contends that he fights for a balanced budget and wants to eliminate inefficiencies and waste in city government.

    Burke recently encountered controversy regarding his body guards. Mayor Emanuel ordered that some of his personal body guards -- a hold over from the days when Burke led a gang of political oppositon to Mayor Harold Washington -- which were paid for with city funds, be reduced.

    Committees:
    Finance (Chair)
    Aviation
    Budget and Governmental Operations
    Committees, Rules and Ethics
    Public Safety
    Workforce Development and Audit
    Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards

    Information Provided By: City of Chicago Website, Office of the City Clerk, klafterandburke.com and The Finance Committee Website.