Eugene Schulter

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Eugene Schulter

b. November 14, 1947

Chicago, 47th Ward Alderman (1975-2011)
Chicago, 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman (2004-2012)

By the 1960's the 47th Ward had one of the last real Republican organizations. To remove this threat then-Mayor Richard J. Daley dispatched newly appointed Park District Director Ed Kelly to be the Ward's Democratic Committeeman and take down the Republican Alderman, John Hoellen. As Park District Director Kelly created a legendary patronage army then brought it all bear on Hoellen when Hoellen simultaneously ran in 1975 for 47th Ward Alderman reelection and as the Republican nominee for mayor against incumbent Mayor Richard J. Daley. Ed Kelly chose a 26-year old precinct captain, Eugene Schulter, to run against Hoellen for Alderman. Of course Hoellen was decimated against Daley for Mayor, but Schulter beat him for his alderman slot too.

At the start of his political career Schulter kept a low profile, taking direction from Kelly by supporting machine candidate Michael Bilandic for mayor in 1979 and then switching to support winning Mayor Jane Byrne in the City Council and again in the 1983 election against Harold Washington.

One of Washington's key 1983 campaign pledges was to remove Ed Kelly from the Park District because Kelly had unequally distributed Park resources along racial boundaries. Schulter, a member of the anti-Washington Vrdolyak 29, blocked Washington's efforts to name new Park District Board members to oust Kelly.

The parks stalemate broke following the 1986 special Council elections, when the council tied between Washington supporters and Vrdolyak supporters, giving Washington the tie-breaking vote. One of the new council's first actions was to appoint a new Park District Board and oust Kelly. In response, Schulter startled his long-time mentor, Kelly, by moving out of Kelly's 47th Ward office and switching his support to Mayor Washington. Schulter supported Washington 1987 and began a long-running enmity with Kelly.

Schulter's fight with Kelly is most of what defined 47th Ward politics for the next 15 years. Kelly would run candidates against Schulter and Schulter, who ensured good services in his ward by building a strong relationship with Mayor Richard M. Daley, would regularly defeat them and promote talk every four years about running against Kelly for Democratic Committeeman. Finally, in 2000 Schulter threw down the gauntlet with Kelly, initiating one of Chicago's angriest ward fights. Kelly won by a small margin and retaliated in 2003 by running precinct captain Jack Lydon against Schulter. But Schulter, who had kept close tabs on his ward's rapidly gentrifying new voters handily defeated Lydon. Kelly, who was 81 by 2003, realized he was beat and called it quits by announcing his retirement. In 2004 Schulter won 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman unopposed.

Despite his switch to Washington in 1986, Schulter is by no means an independent. He supported Daley for mayor in 1989 and supported ward resident (and son of Tom Hynes) Dan Hynes for U.S. Senate in the 2004 Democratic primary against Barack Obama. Perhaps because Schulter fought so many hard campaigns in the past he is thought to maintain one of the strongest campaign organizations in the city.

He announced plans to retired his seat in 2011 and attempted to engineer the placement of precinct captain Tom O'Donnell. But the ward had undergone big changes in the last decade, allowing dark horse independent candidate Ameya Pawar, who had been knocking doors since the previous summer, to win a surprise victory outright.

Schulter resigned his Democratic Committeeman seat in 2012.


  • 1966, Lakeview High School
  • 1970, Loyola University, B.A.

Important Political Events

  • 1975, Elected 47th Ward Alderman, defeating John Hoellen
  • 1986, Leaves Vrdolyak 29 And Supports Mayor Harold Washington for re-election
  • 2000, Defeated for 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman by incumbent Ed Kelly
  • 2003, Reelected 47th Ward Alderman, defeating the Jack Lydon backed Ed Kelly
  • 2004, Elected 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman, replacing Ed Kelly
  • 2007, Reelected 47th Ward Alderman, unopposed
  • 2011, Retired as 47th Ward Alderman, replaced by Ameya Pawar
  • 2012, Retired as 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Peter Coffey