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Eugene Sawyer, Edit Profile

politician , Mayor of Chicago

Eugene Sawyer,, American former mayor. chairman, Young Dem Cook County, 1961-1962, Illinois Young Democrats, 1964-1965, Democratic ward committeeman Chicago's 6th Ward, 1969-1971; delegate Democratic National Convention, 1972, 76, 80. Member National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (life).

Background

Sawyer,, Eugene was born on September 3, 1934 in Greensboro, Alabama, United States. Son of Eugene Sawyer Senior and Bernice (Maudlin) Sawyer.

Education

Bachelor of Science, Alabama State College, 1956.

Career

He was the second African-American to serve as mayor of Chicago. After graduating, he had a brief stint as a chemistry and mathematics teacher in Prentiss, Mississippi, before moving to Chicago to do laboratory work in 1957. In 1959, Sawyer took a job in Chicago’s Department of Water, where he worked until 1971.

City Alderman (1971–1987)In 1971, Sawyer was elected Alderman of Chicago's 6th Ward. By 1987, he was the longest-serving black alderman on the Chicago City Council, when the sudden death of Harold Washington created a vacancy in the position of mayor. During Washington's tenure, a coalition of Regular Democratic and independent Democratic aldermen enacted reforms.

Washington's supporters in the city council divided, supporting Aldermen Sawyer and Timothy C. Evans for mayor. The City Council elected Sawyer mayor in a tumultuous and lengthy meeting. Mayor of Chicago (1987–1989)Sawyer took over from interim mayor David Duvall Orr.

Sawyer's inauguration for mayor occurred in the parking lot of a closed restaurant at North and Bosworth Avenues at 4:01 am on December 2, 1987, in an effort to avoid public demonstration. During his time as mayor, Sawyer worked to pass legislation supporting the installation of lights at Wrigley Field and the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance banning indoor smoking. Building on groundwork laid under Mayor Washington, Sawyer championed the Human Rights Ordinance, passed in 1988, to protect individuals against discrimination.

This was the first Chicago city ordinance to assert the rights of gay and lesbian Chicagoans. In the 1989 Democratic primary for Chicago’s mayor, Richard M. Daley defeated incumbent Eugene Sawyer as well as Alderman Lawrence Bloom, Sheila Jones and James C. Taylor. After retiring, he became involved in business again.

Sawyer died on Saturday, January 19, 2008, at approximately 11 PM after a series of strokes and other health setbacks over the previous month. Sawyer's mayoral papers are available as the Eugene Sawyer Collection at Special Collections department of the Chicago Public Library located in the Harold Washington Library.

Religion

Sawyer was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and an active member of the Vernon Park Church of God.

Politics

After losing the mayoral contest, Sawyer lost his reelection bid for Democratic committeeman of the 6th Ward and subsequently retired from politics. Public viewing for Sawyer took place on January 25 and his funeral took place on January 26 followed by burial at Oak Woods Cemetery, the same cemetery where Harold Washington is buried.

Membership

Chairman, Young Dem Cook County, 1961-1962, Illinois Young Democrats, 1964-1965, Democratic ward committeeman Chicago's 6th Ward, 1969-1971. Delegate Democratic National Convention, 1972, 76, 80. Member National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (life).

Connections

Married Eleanor Haynes (divorced 1996). Children: Shedrick Eugene, Sheryl Celeste, Roderick Terrence. Married Veronica Sawyer, September 9, 1996.

father:
Eugene Sawyer Senior Sawyer,

mother:
Bernice (Maudlin) Sawyer,

spouses:
Eleanor Haynes

Veronica Sawyer

children:
Shedrick Eugene Sawyer,

Sheryl Celeste Sawyer,

Roderick Terrence Sawyer,