William J.P. Banks

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Williams J.P. Banks

b. July 28, 1949

Chicago, 36th Ward Alderman (1983-2009)
Chicago, 36th Ward Democratic Committeeman (1981-2012)

As chair of city's Zoning Committee, William J.P. "Billy" Banks wielded considerable power, which meets monthly to consider hundreds of land use and development proposals. This status was complemented by his friends and family members’ political and government history.

Banks’ late brother, Sam Banks and nephew (Samuel’s son) Jim Banks, were (and Jim still is) two of the city’s top zoning lawyers.

Bank’s niece (Sam’s daughter), Karen Banks, married State Rep. John Fritchey in 1992, later ending in a messy and very public divorce in 2010.

Banks’ influence even extended into the Zoning Department itself, which was for a time managed by two top officials with ties to the alderman, Zoning Administrator Patricia Scudiero and Assistant Zoning Administrator (and longtime 36th Ward precinct captain) Michael Tinerella.

Banks is largely credited with creating the city’s downtown density bonus incentive program which generates funding for affordable housing developments in Chicago’s neighborhoods.

in 2009 Banks retired, turning his seat over to his driver, John Rice. Rice was challenged by neighborhood firefighter Nicholas Sposato and defeated in a runoff in 2011.

Employment and Electoral History

Before his election as alderman, Banks served as a legislative aide to former U.S. Representative Morgan F. Murphy, and later served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. Banks was first elected alderman in 1983 after his predecessor Louis Farina declined to seek re-election, reportedly due to his then imminent indictment on extortion charges. In 1987 Banks sought the nomination for Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court but withdrew his candidacy to avoid a primary fight against former Mayor Jane Byrne, who ultimately lost the Circuit Clerk slate to then-Metropolitan Sanitary District commissioner Aurelia Pucinski.


  • Oak Park-River Forest High School
  • DePaul University, B.A., 1971
  • DePaul University, J.D., 1975

Important Political Events

  • 1981, Appointed 36th Ward Democratic Committeeman, replacing Louis Garippo
  • 1983, Elected 36th Ward Alderman, replacing Louis Farina
  • 1987, Briefly a candidate for Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court
  • 2009, Retired as 36th Ward Alderman, replaced by John Rice


Chicago Politics: Ward by Ward, David K. Fremon, 1989.