Chicago 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly led his fellow legislators in a cavalcade of praise for the performance and memory of former 42nd Ward Alderman Burton Natarus during a virtual meeting of the Chicago City Council today.
Ald. Natarus, who passed away on June 11, was Chicago’s 42nd Ward Alderman from 1971 to 2007. During that time, he served on more than half a dozen committees including the Traffic and Safety, Rules and Ethics, and Zoning Committees. He was unseated by current 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly in 2007.
Ald. Reilly spoke while introducing a resolution to honor Ald. Natarus. Describing his predecessor as a friend, Ald. Reilly recalled how the intensity of their “vicious campaign” for the Aldermanic seat in 2007 gradually transformed into a bond of mutual fondness and admiration.
“After the election, Alderman Natarus didn’t concede,” Ald. Reilly said. “But over time, we developed a respect for one another. Having walked in his shoes for a time, I realized what a difficult job he had, and so we became friends.”
Roughly four years later, Alderman Natarus gave Alderman Reilly his official aldermanic badge. "He had taken it to a jeweler and had scratched out his name in the back and he had engraved mine," Ald. Reilly said.
Ald. Natarus told Ald. Reilly to “keep up the good work” when he presented the badge, a gesture that Ald. Reilly considers an acknowledgement of the results of the 2007 election.
“I will miss Alderman Natarus. He served our city well,” Ald. Reilly said. “He took some courageous stands. He stood up for (Mayor) Harold Washington when that wasn’t a popular thing to do. Mayor, I hope that you and I can work together to find an appropriate way to honor his memory somewhere prominent downtown.”
Chicago 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, who serves an area that was partially represented by Alderman Natarus in the past, said that his constituents often approach him to tell stories about Ald. Natarus’ “quirky, funny, and entertaining” personality.
“All of that belies the seriousness with which he approached this job,” Ald. Hopkins said. “He showed up well read and ready for the issues of the day. He loved his job, his city, and he loved representing downtown. He was a good man. He will be missed.”
Other officials who spoke in favor of Alderman Natarus’ career and character include Ward 37 Alderman Emma Mitts, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, 11th Ward Alderman Patrick Thompson, and 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas.