Saturday, April 16, 2011

AND THE BEAT GOES ON IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE OF CHICAGO'S 43RD WARD... By Jerry Pritikin






Picture #1, Arch Ward Tribune Sports Editor
Picture #2, Paddy Bauler Chicago Alderman of the 43 Ward (Gave me my first political job)
Picture #3, Michele Smith Victory Party 4/5/2011
Picture #4, Michele Smith addresses Maple Pointe Seniors during a debate
Picture #5, Michele Smith & Jerry Pritikin in the Maple Pointe Community Room


When it comes to politics, I often have supported losing candidates. However, in this year's Chicago elections, I batted a thousand for picking winners. It's always satisfying to vote for someone or a cause,rather than against a politician for their stance on issues. I made my first attempt getting involved in politics back in 1948 when I was 11 years old. I made the mistake of attaching a poster for the Progressive Party's Presidential Candidate, Henry Wallace, on my back, and walking too close to an open polling place on N. Troy Street. A Chicago Policeman felt the need to rip it off me, rather than tell me why it was illegal to have political signage that close to a polling place. In the 1950s I helped a friend's brother who was running for Republican Ward Committeeman in the 47th Ward. He invited me to a Republican Party fund raiser. The main speaker was my favorite Chicago Tribune Sports scribe, Arch Ward. He was best known for creating Major League Baseball's All-Star Games during Chicago's Century of Progress Fair in 1933. I used to read his "IN THE WAKE OF THE NEWS" column daily in the Tribune, and I especially enjoyed the "10 Years Ago Today" section. He told an amusing story at the fund raiser that I'll pass on to you now.

He told the large crowd that he had been a sports writer and editor for many years. That job had given him the opportunity to attend all kinds of sporting events. He boasted that he had witnessed big league and minor league ball games, as well as Pro-football and college games. He had reported on regular and championship boxing matches. He had travelled throughout the United States, to big cities and to rural America. He had spent time prior to and after those sporting events in all kinds of locker rooms. The one thing that he had noticed about both amateur and professional athletes is that "not all men are created equal!"

My next political recall was a few years later, when I lived at 1504 N. Dearborn Parkway. I was given a one day job by the legendary politician, Paddy Bauler, of the 43rd Ward. The cigar chewing Alderman worked out of his famous tavern on North Avenue and Sedgwick. He appointed me a Democratic poll watcher in the landmark high rise building at 1500 N. Lake Shore Drive. Some of the best known and wealthiest Chicagoans resided there, who had one thing in common. They were all Republicans. Since 1996, I have been back in the Gold Coast neighborhood. I live at the Maple Pointe Senior Apartments. Originally it was the 27th Ward, now called the 43rd Ward. I helped create the Maple Pointe Tenant's Association and served on it's board for many years. I bought my first computer in 1999, the same year that Vi Daley was elected Alderman of the 43rd Ward. Since that time, I have sent her requests for needed stop lights, to fix broken sidewalks and to stop frequent street flooding that makes it almost impossible to cross LaSalle Street after it rains. It took her 8 years to get the stop lights installed after many false promises. They conveniently showed up in time to coincide with her last election.

I first met Michele Smith when she was running against Vi Daley in 2007. I liked the way she represented all the residents and businesses in our Ward. She forced a run off, and lost by only a few hundred votes that year. She then ran for the Democratic Ward Committeeman and won, beating out several contenders. When Alderman Vi Daley announced she was not seeking another term in late 2010, I jumped on Michele Smith's bandwagon.

Michele visited our building on many occasions. We had a candidate's debate and she was included with 3 others vying for Vi Daley's job. One was Tom Egan. It seemed he had a lot of support from the wealthier residents in the Ward and from big business. However during the campaign he was found to say one thing for one group, and another thing to others to gain their support. He was endorsed by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, The Chicago Tribune and both Police and Firemen Unions. Michele had the endorsement of the Sun-Times, college and senior citizen groups, and she had the support of several former Independent Aldermen from our Ward. I was proud to appear in several of Michele's campaign brochures and wore one of her campaign buttons 7 days a week. She had a great staff, and they kept us informed of all the latest news.

I was the designated poll watcher for Michele, located at the polling place within the Chicago Historical Museum. That precinct included the 1500 N. Lake Shore Drive building and various historic brownstone buildings and mansions, as well as luxury high rise buildings in the Ward. I arrived before 6 a.m. and spent the next 14 hours there. Voting was light. I went home at 8 p.m. to feed my cat, put on my propeller beany baseball cap and took the Red-Line subway to the Victory Party at Grand Central Tavern on Wrightwood Street. I had a good feeling, because the el train was arriving at the Clark / Dearborn Red-Line stop when I did, and the #11 bus at Fullerton station was waiting for me when I got there too. The bus dropped me off right in front of the Grand Central. A large crowd made up of many of Michele supporters gave cheers each and every time the latest results came. When the counting stopped... Michele had won by just under 300 votes. It was not a landslide... however she did it without the help of Mayor Elect Rahm Emanuel! Michele Smith and other winners, along with Emanuel will be sworn into office on May 16th.

1 comment:

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