GARFIELD RIDGE — A former inspector general employee is running for City Council to “clean up” the ward that’s long been a stronghold of indicted former House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Paul Bruton, who spent four years as an analyst at the city inspector general’s office, is vying to oust 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, a top Madigan ally who is seeking a fourth term.
The 13th Ward covers Clearing, Garfield Ridge and West Lawn.
The election is Feb. 28.
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A lifelong Garfield Ridge resident, Bruton said his experience in the city inspector general’s office will help him “bring honest government and transparency to the 13th Ward.”
Bruton worked as an analyst 2013-2017 in the city inspector general’s office, “cutting out waste and abuse” through audits and reviews of police programs, public health standards and red light cameras, he said.
“For too long there’s only been one game in town. And in the 13th Ward, there’s a lot of mystery,” Bruton said. “I did work with a lot of city departments and know how things get done.”
Bruton left his job in early 2018 to be a stay-at-home dad to his two kids.
Bruton has a degree in history from University of Chicago and a master’s in public policy and administration from Northwestern University. He was once an intern for the 1st Ward office under former Ald. Manny Flores.
Bruton’s main issues are “public corruption and public safety,” he said. He wants to improve mental services for a police force struggling with morale and put a “greater focus” on implementing reforms laid out by the federal consent decree for the Police Department, which have been “slow-walked” by leadership, he said.
“It’s not helpful to come at these problems like you’re pro-police or anti-police,” Bruton said. “We need make changes and build more trust in the police.”
Bruton said he can “root out corruption” by replacing a Madigan-connected alderman.
“They have a lot of money and power,” Bruton said. “My challenge is convincing people that something else could work.”
Quinn’s served as alderman of the 13th Ward since 2011, but he’s faced several scandals in recent years.
Quinn’s aldermanic office is in the same building as the 13th Ward Democratic Organization, and he’s long been an ally to Madison. But Madigan, one of the state’s most powerful politicians for decades, was indicted in March and has a racketeering trial set for 2024.
When asked if he still considers Madigan a political ally, Quinn said, “He is the 13th Ward committeeman. And I’m more focused on the work ahead of me.”
Improving education has long been Quinn’s “north star,” he said. John Hancock College Preparatory High School, Sor Juana Elementary School, John C. Dore Elementary School and Richardson Middle School have gotten new buildings since he took office, he said.
The ward has opened three turf soccer fields, three turf baseball diamonds with lights for night games and an ice skating rink “to give our kids greater after-school opportunities,” Quinn said.
Quinn started a snow removal program for 700 homes of older people citizens in the ward, he said.
“I’ve rolled up my sleeves, spent time listening and then delivering,” Quinn said. “This election is a downpayment on your future satisfaction. There’s more work to be done.”
Quinn said he’s “proud to support our police” and has advocated for the Southwest Side to get an additional police district. He voted against the last three city budgets because there was “not enough adequate funding” for police, who need better incentives so they don’t leave for suburban departments, Quinn said.
A judge dismissed a lawsuit in April related to the 2019 election, in which Quinn’s challenger, then-19-year-old DePaul student David Krupa, said Quinn and Madigan pressured voters to keep him off the ballot, according to the Tribune.
The judge dismissed the case because Krupa still made the ballot — but he wrote critically about the lengths Quinn’s campaign went to in order to challenge Krupa, according to the Tribune.
Quinn won the 2019 with 86 percent of the vote.
Quinn said he didn’t challenge petitions this election cycle because “I didn’t want to get bogged down with it.”
Quinn’s past reelection bids have been bankrolled by 13th Ward Democratic Organization and Friends of Michael J. Madigan, according to public campaign finance records.
Quinn said he’s not taking new donations at this time and is “working through the campaign,” which has $400,000 on hand, he said.
“I’m grateful for the support,” Quinn said.
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