Walter Burnett

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Walter Burnett

b. August 16, 1963

Chicago, 27th Ward Alderman (1995-)
Chicago, 27th Ward Democratic Committeeman (2013-)

27th Ward Map - City Ward Map

Lifetime Chicago resident Walter Burnett, Jr., was raised in the infamous Cabrini-Green public housing projects. His father was an assistant precinct captain under 42nd Ward Committeeman and Cook County Democratic Chairman George Dunne. In his late teens, Burnett served two years in prison for bank robbery, for which he was pardoned in 1998 by then-Gov. Jim Edgar. He received an associate's degree in political science and a certificate in drafting while in jail then went on to attend Loop (now Harold Washington) College, UIC Chicago, and Northeastern Illinois University (which he attended while alderman). He started his political career working for Dunne and with the Young Democrats of Cook County in 1989.

Burnett also spent eleven years working in Cook County government as special assistant to then-Recorder of Deeds Jesse White, another 42nd Ward scion. He went on to run White’s successful 1998 Secretary of State campaign. White, now the Illinois Secretary of State, helped him gain a pardon for his robbery felony ahead of Burnett's first re-election. His wife, Darlena Williams-Burnett, a former deputy Recorder of Deeds, also briefly served as a Cook County Commissioner, the 7th District State Central Committeewoman, and ran against Cong. Danny Davis during the 2010 primary.

Aided by White's significant control of state jobs, and the ability to raise significant funds in his fast-gentrifying ward, Burnett's political organization has been a significant force on Chicago's West and Near North Sides for in recent election cycles. The 27th Ward has also changed significantly over the last ten years, becoming much whiter and affluent than it once was. Burnett's campaign coffers have benefited from explosive development in his ward, including the booming Fulton Market area. As a result, he has become one of the best fundraisers in Council.

Although White is running for reelection in 2018, the octogenarian is widely expected to step down soon after election if a Democratic governor, who would appoint his replacement, were to win the next cycle. Losing White's patronage support would be a huge blow to Burnett.

Current Chicago City Council Committees:

  • Committee on Budget and Government Operations
  • Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics
  • Committee on Education and Child Development
  • Committee on Finance
  • Committee on Health and Environmental Protection
  • Committee on Housing and Real Estate
  • Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, Chair
  • Committee on Public Safety
  • Committee Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation
  • Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards

Important Political Events

  • 1995, Elected Alderman of 27th Ward, defeating Dexter Watson
  • 2013, Appointed 27th Ward Democratic Committeeman by precinct captains, replacing Jesse White