Monday, January 21, 2008

The reluctant mayor

A Tribune editorial about the late Mayor Eugene Sawyer who died yesterday. Check out this excerpt...
Sawyer, who died late Saturday, got used by many of the people who made him mayor and those who leeched onto him once he was there. He could have said "no," of course. There were signs that he was reluctant as aldermen plotted to put him in the job. But then, what alderman could say "no" to the prospect of running the city?

So Sawyer let the schemers scheme, and he was elected at a wild City Council meeting. He was reviled as a traitor to the black community and a stooge of the white politicians. He was ridiculed for being so soft-spoken that it was often hard to hear what he had to say. It was an ugly time in Chicago.

But Sawyer was warm and unassuming, about as unlikely a person as you'd ever expect to find in the middle of such ugliness.

He was a Democratic organization guy. He ran one of the best ward organizations in the city. He was a very good alderman who was pushed to be mayor and he was not a very good mayor. He ran for election in 1989, but most of the people who had made him, by then, were done with him. He lost, and Richard M. Daley has run a quieter city ever since. Eugene Sawyer was a decent man who could have spared himself a lot of grief if he had just said "no" to others' ambitions.

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