b. June 21, 1954
Chicago, 40th Ward Alderman (1983-)
Chicago, 40th Ward Democratic Committeeman (1984-)
O’Connor’s status as one of the City Council’s longest serving aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s unofficial floor leader provides him with considerable influence. In his 1988 book, Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, author David K. Fremon described O’Connor’s hiring practices as “All in the Family”, as O’Connor was found to, “have used leftover funds from his committee to provide year-end jobs for fifteen persons, including his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law, his sister-in- law, wives of two former members of his law firm, and the wife of a former staff aide. Some of those hired admitted later that they did not realize they were on the city payroll.” Since then, O’Connor has faced numerous nepotism charges and each time he’s shrugged them off.
An expert at counting votes, O’Connor served as the unofficial floor leader for both Mayors Daley.
A regular election winner today, O’Connor’s victory in 1983 over then-incumbent alderman Ivan Rittenberg proved to be his closest, having fallen just 28 votes short of avoiding a runoff. During the Council Wars, he caucused with the mostly-white Vrdolyak 29.
He unsuccessfully ran for Cook County State’s Attorney twice, in 1990 and again in 1992. In 2009 he came in fifth, behind winner Mike Quigley, for the special election to replace Rahm Emanuel in the 5th Congressional District.
O’Connor is well-known for his decades-long fight to rid his ward of the lodges that constitute “Motel Row” along Lincoln Avenue. After his twenty year effort, O’Connor was featured prominently in the Chicago Tribune exposé, “Neighborhoods For Sale”, which chronicled the connections between O’Connor’s support of developers’ re-zoning proposals and the developers’ hiring of O’Connor’s wife, Barbara O'Connor, as exclusive broker. His wife’s real estate work also figured prominently in his 2015 re-election campaign.
In 2018, O'Connor suggested he would not run again if Emanuel dropped out. Instead, he doubled down, and is one of few senior aldermen and Emanuel allies not to voluntarily retire. He faces a younger, more progressive field in 2019. When colleague and friend Ald. Edward M. Burke was charged with attempted extortion and stripped of the Finance Committee Chairmanship in January 2019, Vice Chair O'Connor took over.
Current Chicago City Council Committees:
- Committee on Aviation
- Committee on Budget and Government Operations
- Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics
- Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development
- Committee on Education and Child Development
- Committee on Finance, Chair
- Committee on Workforce Development and Audit, Chair
- Loyola University, J.D., 1979
Important Political Events
- 1983, Elected 40th Ward Alderman, defeating Ivan RIttenberg in runoff
- 1984, Elected 40th Ward Democratic Committeeman, defeating John Geocaris
- 1990, Defeated for Cook County State's Attorney Democratic Nominee by Cecil Partee
- 1992, Defeated for Cook County State's Attorney by GOP Nominee and incumbent Jack O'Malley
- 2009, Defeated for 5th Congressional Seat special election by Mike Quigley
- 2019, Ascended to chair City Council's Finance Committee
Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, David K. Fremon, 1988