No one has taught me more about Chicago politics than David Fagus, the longtime Democratic committeeman of the 49th Ward. I first met Dave in 1998, a year after I moved to Rogers Park, when I attended his ward endorsement session at the Loyola Park Fieldhouse. Unlike most committeemen, Dave’s doesn’t dictate the ward’s slate. He puts it up to a vote of all his volunteers. As a result, most of the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general traveled to Rogers Park to speak at that meeting.
Two years later, I volunteered for the Al Gore campaign. Dave put me in charge of my precinct, flattering me with the title “captain.” That’s when I learned that a ward organization’s job is turnout, not persuasion. He assigned me to call Democratic voters and offer them rides to the polls.
“If someone says they’re voting for Bush or Nader, don’t try to argue with them,” Dave said. “They’re just gone.”
Later, when he sponsored me to become a deputy registrar, I suggested signing up students at Loyola University.
“They vote goofy,” he said. “Or they vote Republican.”
Which, to a Democratic committeeman, is the same thing.
In January 2004, Dave brought Barack Obama, then a candidate for the U.S. Senate, to the Heartland Café. Over 300 people showed up. Obama’s speech was a preview of his address to the Democratic National Convention that summer: same delivery, same energy, same lines. Years later, I interviewed Dave about it while I was researching my book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President.
“[David] Axelrod told us after the fact that the enthusiasm he felt in that room was when he felt the tide had turned,” he said. “To have that many people that they had to be turned away.”
Dave continued to be a good source for this blog, and for other articles I wrote. Whenever I saw him at one of Ald. Joe Moore’s “Follow Me On Friday” events at a local restaurant, he always had political gossip. But just last week, I realized I hadn’t seen him in awhile. I got this e-mail from Ald. Moore, explaining why. I’m passing it on because another thing Dave taught me about politics was never to forget a friend.
Our friend, 49th Ward Democratic Committeeman David Fagus, is facing a serious personal challenge and needs our help.
Over a decade ago, David suffered kidney failure. He was on dialysis for a relatively short period of time and was fortunate to receive a transplant. He soon returned to a normal productive life, but earlier this year the transplant began to fail.
David has been very ill since late March and, as a result, lost his job and is no longer covered by his employer’s health insurance. Like so many other Americans who face serious illness and are unable to work, David has exhausted his life savings and is having difficulty paying for his medical care. His life is in jeopardy if he can't maintain regular dialysis treatment and receive the other medical care he needs.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and I are sponsoring a benefit to help David maintain his health care coverage and pay his mounting medical bills.
Please join us for a DAVID FAGUS BENEFIT BARBECUE on Tuesday, September 18, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Bruno and Tim's Lounge, 6562 N. Sheridan. Parking is available one block south at The Morgan, 1209 W. Arthur, and the Granada Center, 6439 N. Sheridan.
Complimentary hot dogs, hamburgers, beer and soft drinks will be served. In return, we ask you to make as large a donation as you can to help David pay his medical bills.
To donate for David's care, CLICK HERE
You also may pay by check made payable to "David Fagus Benefit Fund." Bring the check to the benefit next Tuesday, September 18, or mail it to:
David Fagus Benefit Fund
c/o First Commercial Bank
6945 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60626
Please note: Your donation will be considered a gift to David to help cover the cost of his medical coverage. It is not tax deductible, nor is it a political donation.
Thank you for your help and support of our friend, neighbor and community leader.