Sneed: Ald. Thompson on his family’s deep political roots

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Ald. Patrick DaleyThompson (11th) was a little boy when he was handed a big city job.

The blue-eyed fireplug was given a “clicker” to trigger the lights of the city’s gigantic Christmas tree jutting from the old Civic Center plaza.

“We were led to believe we were lighting the tree, but the clicker wasn’t real,” he chuckled.

“Oh, well. We sure pushed the clicker hard!”

The fifth-oldest of 23 first cousins comprising the latest incarnation of the Daley dynasty — set in place by his grandfather, Mayor Richard J. Daley — Thompson is the first member of his family to become alderman of the Daley bastion: The 11th Ward.

Surprisingly, Thompson also chose to live in the legendary Bridgeport bungalow where Mayor Richard J. Daley and his wife, “Sis,” raised his mother, Pat — and her siblings Mary Carol, Ellie, Rich, Mike, John and Bill.

“No one in the family ever wanted to be alderman of the 11thWard before,” said Patrick’s uncle, Cook County Board Commissioner John Daley, who once served as a state senator and a state representative.

“Patrick has a real commitment to the community and he wanted to live in the ward.”

“I’ve never ventured far from this house . . . from this ward,” said Thompson, a real estate lawyer and former commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, in his first interview since becoming alderman.

“I grew up next door to my grandparents and spent a lot of time with my Gram,” he said, referring to the late matriarch of the Daley dynasty, Sis Daley.

“I’d flip over the fence and Gram always had coffee and cake ready because she had a sweet tooth. I spent a lot of time in the family den in the basement playing with my sister, Courtney, and my brother, Peter.

OPINION

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“I don’t remember my grandfather as well, but he was always giving us sports memorabilia to play with. Of course, we had no appreciation of the value of it. We’d wear it out. Good grief.”

He went to school in the ward, played baseball and football and hockey at Donovan Park, sat at the counter of the now non-existent North Star ice cream parlor, and hung out at the Valentine Boys Club, playing basketball.

“[The job is] a perfect fit for Patrick,” said a Sneed source.

“He is committed to the 11thWard and was not only raised here, but he is one of only a few Daley first cousins who chose to live here. He has not forgotten his roots,” the source said.

Thompson, the newest Daley entrant into Chicago politics, is also the nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley and former Secretary of Commerce/White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

“Look, I am very proud of my family,” said Thompson. “But I am my own person and am not relying on my family name to get things done,” said Daley.

“But I am reminded of my grandfather’s legacy in the ward,” he said.

“When I ran in the ward, a number of people remembered what my grandfather had done for them. What an influence he had been in their lives. He died in 1976. I was only seven years old, so I don’t remember much about him.

“But it was proof of how special a person he had become. How one can have an impact on someone else’s life.”

“When we first moved into the house, we talked about adding a second floor,” said Thompson, who lives there with wife, Katie, and their three children, Eleanor, 17, Grace, 15, and Patrick Jr, 9.

“Then I thought, well, 11 people lived in this house before us . . . which once included my great-grandfather, “Big Mike” Daley. So I figured we’d probably never see each other if we added another floor. So we only redid the bathroom and the kitchen and repainted.”

“I had all the original blueprints of the house framed. And I found a hidden door up in the attic which was imprinted with family signatures. So I had it resealed.

“Look, when I took the job, I planned to roll up my sleeves for the 56,000 residents of the ward — the people who live in Armour [Square], Bridgeport, Canaryville, Pilsen, University Village, and the Tri-Taylor area,” he said. “It’s got a huge, diverse community.

“This ward has a sense of family and I want to give back to it; run a commercial corridor through it; accelerate development in it; deal with gun violence; and provide services for the most in need — especially those who need mental health services.”

Pass the clicker, please. A real one this time.

Sneedlings . . .

Saturday’s birthdays: Dustin Hoffman, 78; Princess Beatrice, 27, and The Edge, 54 . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Anna Kendrick, 30; Hoda Kotb, 51, and Gillian Anderson, 47.

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