Mary O'Connor

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Mary O'Connor

b. December 2, 1958
Chicago, 41st Ward Alderman (2011-2015)
Chicago, 41st Ward Democratic Committeeman (2008-2016)

For decades control of the 41st Ward was a roiling fight between the same names: Ralph Capparelli, Roger McAuliffe and Michael McAuliffe. Occasionally neighboring 36th Ward Alderman William J.P. Banks and Joseph Berrios' friend Thomas Jaconetti got involved, but for the most part, the 41st Ward was Chicago's political version of the Hatfields versus the McCoys.

And then local business leader Mary O'Connor came out of nowhere to win an election in 2008. She was a long-time president of the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce and owner of a number of 41st Ward businesses, including O'Connor's Deli and Market, Unforgettable Edibles and Blackthorn Manor Banquets. O'Connor also founded the Edison Park Turkey Trot.

In a ward where the lines between Republican and Democratic leaders blur constantly, there have been endless recriminations over who really helped O'Connor beat long-time incumbent Democratic Committeeman Capparelli. Of course O'Connor denies GOP involvement, but she admits a friendship with the local GOP Committeeman Michael McAuliffe and part of her platform is to work closely with the 41st Ward Alderman, Brian Doherty, who happens to be a Republican. And she has less than a consistent record of voting in Democratic Primaries.

To an outsider this may seem like damning stuff, but most in the 41st Ward, a conservative bastion that often votes majority Republican, voters can barely distinguish between the two local party organizations. Deliver city services, keep up the schools and leave us alone is the local mantra and O'Connor, a long-time local business leader who seems to be friends with just about everyone in the ward, seems to fall into that mold.

She held onto those alliances to win the aldermanic spot in 2011, narrowing winning election in a runoff from a raucous 12-person open seat race after Brian Doherty retired. But her coalition fell apart in 2015 when she ran against avowed Republican and former police officer and firefighter Anthony Napolitano who won election in a runoff.

Important Political Events

  • 2008, Elected 41st Ward Democratic Committeeman, defeating Ralph Capparelli in a plurality
  • 2011, Elected 41st Ward Alderman in runoff an open seat race, replacing Brian Doherty
  • 2015, Defeated for 41st Ward Alderman in runoff by Anthony Napolitano
  • 2016, Retired as 41st Ward Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Tim Heneghan