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
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
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.