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Pawar Basks in Glow of 47th Ward Win

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 24, 2011 4:09PM

Image Credit: Jane Rickard, Welles Park Bulldog
The biggest surprise of Election Day was in the 47th Ward, where Ameya Pawar beat Tom O'Donnell for the seat being vacated by Eugene Schulter. It was a stunning victory for Pawar and served as an example of classic Chicago political arrogance on Schulter's part. Schulter, who dropped out of the race in January seeking to replace Joe Berrios on the Cook County Board of Review, and O'Donnell were longtime political allies. Conventional Chicago political wisdom used to be that, if one ward feudal lord stepped down, the heir apparent took over. 47th Ward residents responded to the cynicism in astounding fashion, rejecting the Schulter/O'Donnell ploy in favor of Pawar, who, as Center Square Journal's Samantha Abernethy noted in yesterday's live chat, Pawar went door-to-door throughout the 47th for fifteen months. By the time Election day came, no amount of cheap political stunts could stop people from changing their minds.

Another important note about Pawar's victory: race was not an issue. In a ward that's only 5 percent Asian-American, voters were simply tired of business as usual under Schulter and the certainty of the same under O'Donnell. Asian American groups also hope that they can build on Pawar's victory in having wards redrawn to reflect predominantly Asian-American wards in Chinatown, Albany Park and West Ridge.

As for the Alderman-elect, Pawar is relishing the victory and the sweat equity he put into his campaign. He told the Tribune, "There's a sense of vindication."