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David Orr

David Orr
52nd Mayor of Chicago
In office
November 25, 1987 – December 2, 1987 (serving pro tem after the sudden death of Harold Washington)
Preceded by Harold Washington
Succeeded by Eugene Sawyer
Personal details
Born David Duvall Orr
(1944-10-04) October 4, 1944
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Residence Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

David Duvall Orr (born October 4, 1944) is an American Democratic politician from Chicago, Illinois. He was Alderman of the 49th Ward in Chicago from 1979 to 1991. In 1987, he served briefly as Mayor of Chicago after the death of Mayor Harold Washington. Since 1991, he has been County Clerk of Cook County. As County Clerk, he is responsible for the third largest election district in the United States (among other duties). Orr is a graduate of Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.


  • Aldermanic career 1
  • Mayor 2
  • County Clerk 3
  • Other 4
  • References 5

Aldermanic career

Orr entered politics as an "independent Democrat", opposed to the official Democratic Party organization. The party organization was then controlled by the "Machine" created by Mayor Richard J. Daley, who died in 1976. In 1979, Orr was elected Alderman from the 49th Ward, in the far northeastern corner of Chicago (the Rogers Park neighborhood). He joined with other white "independent" aldermen from the "Lakefront" and black dissident aldermen from the South Side and West Side in opposing the corruption and racism of the Machine. He was re-elected in 1983 and 1987.

In 1983, with the Machine divided between supporters of Jane Byrne and Richard M. Daley, black independent Harold Washington became Mayor. Washington was opposed by 29 Machine aldermen who tried to paralyze city government for three years in what was dubbed "Council Wars". Orr backed Washington, and when the opposition collapsed in 1986, Orr became a leader in the new Council majority. He was chosen President of the Council.


When Mayor Washington died of a heart attack in 1987, Orr, as vice mayor, became mayor.[1][2] He took office on November 25 and served for a week until the Council elected a permanent replacement mayor. Orr was suggested as the obvious choice, but as a reformer, he was vehemently opposed by the remaining Machine aldermen, and many black Chicagoans wanted a black replacement for Washington. Alderman Eugene Sawyer, who was black, and before 1983 a Machine loyalist, was chosen instead on December 2, 1987. Orr chaired Council meetings as mayor on December 1, a memorial meeting for Washington, and on December 2, when Sawyer was selected as his replacement.[2][3]

County Clerk

In 1990, the office of County Clerk was vacated by Stanley T. Kusper, Jr. who ran unsuccessfully for Cook County Board President, and Orr decided to run for it. He won the Democratic primary handily, with 56% of the vote against two opponents.[4] He also won easily in the general election, receiving more votes than any other candidate for county office. [5] He was re-elected in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010. In 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010, he was unopposed for renomination, and faced only token opposition in the general election.


In 2012 Orr was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.[6]


  1. ^ "Chicago Mourns Mayor Washington, Council Picks New Mayor Next Week", Chicago Tribune, 1987-11-27: 1 
  2. ^ a b Fremon, David K. (January 1, 1998), Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, Indiana University Press, p. 343,  
  3. ^ Galvan, Manuel (1987-12-02), "Memorial Gives Way to Politics", Chicago Tribune: 1 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Washington
Mayor of Chicago
Succeeded by
Eugene Sawyer
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