Indicted Ed Burke Trails In A Bid To Extend His 52-Year Run As Democratic Ward Boss
Even before he became alderman of Chicago’s 14th Ward, Ed Burke was the ward’s Democratic committeeman.
But the allegedly corrupt Burke’s run as the party’s ward boss — which began in 1968 — may be over after Tuesday’s primary election.
With 29 of the 31 precincts in the ward reporting, Burke trailed state Rep. Aaron Ortiz in the race for committeeman. Ortiz had 2,103 votes, or 40%, to Burke’s 1,711 votes (33%). A third candidate, Alicia Elena Martinez, had 27%.
It was enough for Ortiz, 28, to claim an historic win.
“I am declaring victory,” Ortiz told WBEZ late Tuesday. “I think the people of the 14th Ward are ready for change.”
Despite being indicted on corruption charges last year, Burke has fought the case — and the Southwest Side ward’s voters re-elected him to another term in the City Council last year.
Burke replaced his father as committeeman after he died 52 years ago. The following year, he became an alderman.
He was chairman of the Council’s powerful Finance Committee for decades and built a thriving private law practice appealing the property taxes of many of the city’s biggest real estate interests, including the Trump Tower Chicago.
The nexus of his political and private interests is at the heart of the federal case against Burke.
Burke, 76, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Ortiz said he had not received a call from Burke conceding the race.
In 2018, Ortiz unseated Burke’s brother Dan Burke in the first electoral setback for the ward’s ruling family in decades.
Ortiz, who is a close ally of Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, said his top goal as committeeman would be to increase voter turnout in the heavily Latino ward.
Dan Mihalopoulos is a reporter for WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.
Correction: Ed Burke has represented the 14th Ward for 52 years, not 62.