Another member of Chicago's most famous political dynasty is taking his place on the City Council that his grandfather and uncle presided over — and dominated — for decades.
Patrick Daley Thompson, a 45-year-old lawyer, was sworn in as alderman Monday to represent the city's 11th Ward, the very neighborhood on Chicago's South Side where Mayor Richard J. Daley rose to power and held it with an iron fist for 21 years and where his son, Mayor Richard M. Daley, kept a grip on it for 22 more.
One of 13 new aldermen on the council, Thompson's election marks a return of his family to City Hall. Thompson was supported by the same ward organization that has successfully backed a long string of City Council candidates dating to the early 1950s, when it was headed by a young Richard J. Daley. Thompson's uncle Richard M. Daley, who is rarely seen or heard from these days, attended Monday's inauguration ceremony for the new aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is starting his second term.
Thompson's mother is the oldest of Richard J. and Sis Daley's seven children. Though his name is Patrick D. Thompson on the website of the law firm where he's a partner, on the ballot that D. became Daley. Thompson, a former Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner, says he isn't trying to hide or promote his family connections.
"On formal documents, like I believe the ballot is, I use the full name, just like on my law license and diplomas," Thompson said. "I never ran on my name as a Daley, and I certainly wouldn't run away from my name as a Daley."
Whether or not that decision gained him votes, the fact that Thompson had to go through a runoff election signaled to many observers that the family's clout isn't what is used to be.
"That's the most unusual thing," said Dick Simpson, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former alderman himself. "It shows a lot of things have changed in Chicago."
Though Thompson was sworn in just blocks in one direction from a government building named after his grandfather and blocks in another direction from a park named after the late wife of his uncle in another, the family's influence was not what it was.
"He's got a ways to go before he becomes a powerful figure," said Simpson. "He's got more potential influence than the other newly elected aldermen because of his family but it's still pretty limited."