Three decades later, David Orr considering ‘return’ to mayor’s office
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He’s already in the history books as one of the city’s shortest tenured mayors, and now Cook County Clerk David Orr is eyeing whether to seek another distinction.
You might say he’s considering whether to become a Grover Cleveland of Chicago mayors, serving non-consecutive terms – in Orr’s case, terms separated by more than three decades.
After holding the post for about a week in 1987, Orr said Wednesday that he is eyeing whether he wants another chance — and a longer stint — in the mayor’s office.
Though he was set to retire in a couple of months, Orr said “given the political situation, I’m exploring a change of plans … from gleeful retirement to a return to the mayor’s office.”
More than three decades ago, Orr served as interim mayor after Mayor Harold Washington died on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving of 1987. Then 49th Ward alderman, Orr had been vice mayor, so under law he held the mayoral post until Eugene Sawyer was chosen acting mayor at a tumultuous City Council meeting on Dec. 2, 1987.
He’s apparently given some thought to the job in those three decades.
“The city should be run differently,” Orr said. “There are ways to save money, create jobs and help our schools. I want the city to deal with inequality and racism — we need someone to bring the city together and represent everyone’s best interests.”
The exploratory period is a personal one for him since a run would disrupt family life, Orr said. He also says it’s a time to ask if popularity transfers into votes, and if he has the ability to gather the support he needs. Orr said he couldn’t say what kind of support he’d have “but I’ve been a maverick all these years and I know support comes in different ways.”
If Orr runs, he’d be the 13th candidate in a crowded field that’s only expected to grow now that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not seeking re-election. Whether he runs or not, Orr says he’ll be active politically.
But if Orr runs and returns to City Hall for a longer stay, he would not be the first Chicago mayor to serve non-consecutive terms.
Carter Harrison III was the city’s 29th mayor, serving from 1879 to 1887, and the city’s 33rd mayor, returning to City Hall in 1893. Harrison’s son, Carter Harrison IV, pulled a similar feat, serving as the city’s 37th mayor, from 1897 to 1905, and 40th, from 1911 to 1915.
William Hale Thompson — the city’s last Republican mayor, a Prohibition era pal of Al Capone — also served non-consecutive terms between 1915 and 1931.