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Ald. Schulter Hints At Leaving Alderman Job This Month – UPDATE

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ald. Eugene Schulter (center) and 47th Ward candidate Tom O'Donnell (right) officially open the new play lot at Welles Park last May. Photo by Teresa Fourcher.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th) is vying to replace out-going Joe Berrios on the Cook County Board of Tax Review and leave his aldermanic post. Berrios, who was elected Cook County Assessor last November, leaves his Board of Review seat and starts his new Assessor job on Monday, December 6.

The Tax Board of Review is considered a judicial body, so vacant positions are filled by appointment by the Cook County Circuit Court Chief Justice Timothy Evans. Evans would likely make his appointment soon after Berrios moves up to Assessor.

Schulter’s interest in becoming a Board of Review member became clear last week when one of his closest supporters, Tom O’Donnell, filed to run for 47th Ward Alderman.

Schulter has supported O’Donnell for other positions in the past, including a 2007 vacancy created when 13th District state representative Rep. Larry McKeon died in office. In a closed-door meeting between Schulter and other North Side Democratic Committeemen, Greg Harris was selected over O’Donnell for the position.

It is also possible, the Sun-Times reports, that Schulter will choose to retire before January 1 to beat a deadline that would lower his pension benefits.

Reached for comment yesterday, O’Donnell would not say whether he would stay on the ballot if Schulter was not chosen for Board of Review.

Ald. Schulter’s campaign was contacted for comment yesterday, but did not provide comment for publication.

Challenger Ameya Pawar was more forthcoming about Schulter’s possibly vacating the 47th Ward position, “It would be good if he decided quickly. I think it’s interesting that he’s going to put a placeholder in there if he’s going to retire or not.”

Challenger Matt Reichel also lumped O’Donnell and Schulter together. “It’s both exciting and troubling. Troubling in terms of the timing because he’s inserted his chosen successor. If [Schulter] does leave it is exciting for us to have an open election.”

Although Judge Evans makes the appointment, Berrios, who is also the Cook County Democratic Chairman, is likely to weigh in on the Board of Review choice. Schulter’s past support of 47th Ward resident Forrest Claypool, Berrios’ recent opponent for Assessor, may figure into Schulter’s chances for the Board of Review spot.

November 22 was the filing deadline to be on the ballot for Alderman. Besides incumbent Schulter and O’Donnell three other candidates have filed, Ameya Pawar, Tom Jacks and Matt Reichel.

Chicago’s municipal elections are on February 22, 2011.

Update (12/2, 2:30pm): After publication of this article, Schulter’s staff phoned CSJ with the following statement. ”Ald. Schulter has no intention of retiring from public service at this time. He’s flattered to have his name included in the discussion for the Board of Review position. Right now his attention, as always, is to do the best job he can do as Alderman of the 47th Ward.”

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