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Ald. Ed Burke’s career includes nearly half a century on Chicago City Council

Ed Burke has been alderman of the 14th Ward on the Southwest Side since 1969. | Lou Foglia / Sun-Times

Edward M. Burke, 74, has been alderman of Chicago’s 14th Ward for nearly 50 years, a now-majority Hispanic ward once represented by his father, Joseph P. Burke.

Burke has weathered numerous threats to depose him as chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee by mayors with whom he subsequently reached political accommodation.

He has survived federal investigations that threatened to undercut his power base, once even by blaming a dead man for ghost-payrolling irregularities on his committee payroll.

He’s been in the public spotlight for having taxpayer-funded bodyguards drive him to and from City Hall — and for how quickly city snowplows clear the pavement on his Southwest Side block.

RELATED: Has Ed Burke finally reached the end of his long political road?

A Democrat, he’s shrugged off criticism regarding his law firm’s business relationship with one of Republican President Donald Trump’s companies. Burke’s firm, Klafter & Burke, repeatedly has sought to reduce the property taxes that Trump Tower and other commercial properties have to pay.

Former Ald. Dick Simpson (44th), who served with Burke in the City Council for eight years, ending in 1979, once called him J. Edgar Hoover of City Hall: “He does know where the bodies are buried from being an insider for so long.”

Who is Ed Burke?

Political Office: Alderman, 14th Ward; chairman, Chicago City Council Finance Committee

Education: Undergraduate and law degrees from DePaul University

Occupation: Attorney, Klafter & Burke; member, Chicago City Council; Chicago Police Officer, 1965-68

Books: Co-author of “End of Watch,” about Chicago police officers killed in the line of duty, and “Inside the Wigwam,” about Chicago political conventions

14th Ward Office: 773-471-1414

Personal: Burke is married to Anne Burke, an Illinois Supreme Court justice


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Aldermen Edward Burke (left) and Edward R. Vrdolyak confer during a Council debate on cable TV in Chicago in 1985. File Photo.
Aldermen Edward Burke (left) and Edward R. Vrdolyak confer during a Council debate on cable TV in Chicago in 1985. | File photo