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OFFE 2008 Supporter
Ed H. Smith


For decades, Ed H. Smith has been a tireless advocate for the people with a track record of accomplishment in Chicago City Council and the wider community.  As Cook County Recorder of Deeds, Ed Smith will bring his famous energy and high standards of integrity to Cook County Government.

As a 24-year veteran of the City Council from Chicago’s West Side 28th Ward, Alderman Smith has consistently fought for social justice.  In the midst of the 1980’s crack epidemic, Ald. Smith garnered national attention and cheers from the community when he set up his Ward office in an open-air drug market to chase away dealers.  He has not only fought to bring development to his Ward but also appears in court to speak on behalf of constituents. 

Most recently, Ald. Smith, in his role as Chair of the City Council Health Committee, authored and led passage of the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance of 2006, banning smoking from public places.  Following passage of the Chicago ban, Smith traveled to Springfield and successfully lobbied the Illinois Legislature to pass a statewide ban effective January 1, 2008.

Now, Ald. Smith plans to bring his progressive vision to the Recorder of Deeds Office.  As Recorder, Ald. Smith will first modernize the Recorder of Deeds and lift it out of an out-dated paper-based archive.  Second, he will open up the records to the general public by improving on-line access and by creating a culture of customer service in the office. Finally, he will make the Recorder an advocate for the people rather than a mere administrator, using his strong voice to call for meaningful change in County Government.

When he first arrived in Chicago in the 1960’s, he had just completed two years with the Peace Corps in Hyderabad, India (he still speaks fluent Hindi and Tegulu) and was inspired to be a community organizer.  Through his work with the Chicago Economic Development Corporation, Smith moved start-up funds into dozens of fledgling Black businesses that now anchor neighborhoods across Chicago.

In 1983, Smith helped lead the West Side campaign for Harold Washington’s historic campaign for Mayor.  While the campaign brought in a new era, Smith often risked his personal safety in the campaign, as the West Side campaign included street fights and the occasional gunshot.

Following Washington’s victory, Smith successfully campaigned against the old Black Machine for 28th Ward Alderman in 1983, and then for Democratic Committeeman in 1984, positions he has held ever since.

In the Chicago City Council as the Chairman of the Health Committee, Alderman Smith led the passage of the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance Act, banning smoking in virtually every public place. More recently, Ald. Smith has led efforts to expose Chicago police officers most often accused of excessive force.

Ald. Smith takes pride that his aldermanic office works around the clock. The office fixes leaky roofs, bears witness in criminal cases, challenges zoning decisions, fights individual cases of consumer fraud, goes to schools to visit classrooms, coordinates with the State's Attorney, repairs traffic signals, defends seniors whose house has been unwittingly sold, and generally acts as unofficial advocate for citizens in need.

Ald. Smith was reelected in 2007 and currently chairs the Chicago City Council's Health Committee, and sits on the Zoning, Finance, Budget, Buildings, Rules and Aviation Committees.

Ald. Smith has a B.A. from Alcorn State University in Mississippi – where he was born – and a M.A. in Urban Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.  He and his wife Carolyn live in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood.



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