In Chicago Politics is a Family Business

February 15, 2011  |  

(Chicago Sun Times) — “Say hello to your mother for me.”  Ebony Tillman gets that a lot while campaigning for 3rd Ward alderman.  After all, her iconic fancy-hat-wearing mom, former Ald. Dorothy Tillman, was her neighborhood’s colorful and quotable ward boss for 20 years — until getting unseated by Ald. Pat Dowell in 2007.  “I would say that people ask about my mom every other door, but really it’s more like every door,” Ebony Tillman said. “It’s the first question they ask everywhere I go. Even at the train station. It makes me feel very proud.”  She’s not alone.  Four other children of former aldermen also are making bids to oust incumbent ward bosses on the Feb. 22 ballot.

Keeping political power in the family — like the Daleys, Burkes, Carotherses, Strogers, Lipiniskis, Puchinskis, Madigans and Cullertons, to name a few — is a very Chicago thing to do.  Keeping political power in the family — like the Daleys, Burkes, Carotherses, Strogers, Lipiniskis, Puchinskis, Madigans and Cullertons, to name a few — is a very Chicago thing to do.  “Machine politics always has had nepotism as one of its prime characteristics,” Chicago political expert and former Ald. package Simpson said. “Many times there are relatives on the [government] payroll and it’s not very different if one is alderman. It’s very common for one to grow up in the family business the way [Mayor] Richard M. Daley did growing up in his father’s household.”

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