David Orr

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David Orr
David Orr on Live from the Heartland July 23 2012.png
County Clerk of Cook County
In office
December 11, 1990 – December 10, 2018
Preceded byStanley Kusper
Succeeded byKaren Yarbrough
Acting Mayor of Chicago
In office
November 25, 1987 – December 2, 1987
Preceded byHarold Washington
Succeeded byEugene Sawyer
Member of the Chicago City Council
from the 49th Ward
In office
February 23, 1979 – December 10, 1990
Preceded byHomer Johnson[1]
Succeeded byRobert Clarke
Personal details
David Duvall Orr

(1944-10-04) October 4, 1944 (age 74)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationSimpson College (BA)
WebsiteOfficial website

David Duvall Orr (born October 4, 1944) is an American Democratic politician who served as the County Clerk of Cook County from 1990 to 2018. Orr was an Alderman of the 49th Ward in Chicago, Illinois from February 23, 1979 until December 10, 1990. From November 25, 1987 until December 2, 1987, Orr served as Mayor of Chicago after the death of Harold Washington on November 25, 1987.[2] Orr retired from the office of Cook County Clerk in 2018, opting not to run for an eighth term.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago, Orr is a graduate of Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.

Chicago City Council (1979-90)[edit]

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 December 1976. In February 1979, Orr was elected Alderman from the 49th Ward, in the far northeastern corner of Chicago (the Rogers Park neighborhood).

Orr 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.[citation needed] Orr was re-elected in February 1983 and 1987.

In February 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 August 1986, Orr became a leader in the new Council majority. Orr was chosen President of the Council.

When Orr was elected County Clerk in 1990, then-mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Robert Clarke as his replacement. In the 1991 aldermanic election, Clarke was defeated by Joe Moore, whom Orr had endorsed.[3][4]

Mayor of Chicago (1987)[edit]

When Mayor Washington died of a heart attack on November 25, 1987, Orr, as vice mayor, became mayor.[5][6] 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.[6][7]

County Clerk (1990-2018)[edit]

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. Orr won the Democratic primary handily, with 56% of the vote against two opponents.[8] He also won easily in the general election, receiving more votes than any other candidate for county office.[9] 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.[citation needed]

On June 21, 2017, he announced that he would not run for reelection to an eighth term.[10] Karen Yarbrough, the then-Cook County Recorder of Deeds, succeeded Orr as the Clerk.[11]


In 2012, Orr was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.[12]


  1. ^ "Chicago Tribune - Historical Newspapers".
  2. ^ Chicago's Loop By Janice A. Knox, Heather Olivia Belcher
  3. ^ Javorsky, Ben (March 21, 1991). "Politics by proxy: it's Clarke vs. Moore (Daley vs. Orr) in the 49th Ward". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  4. ^ McClell, Edward. "The Next Alderman of the 49th Ward ..." NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  5. ^ "Chicago Mourns Mayor Washington, Council Picks New Mayor Next Week", Chicago Tribune, p. 1, 1987-11-27
  6. ^ a b Fremon, David K. (January 1, 1998), Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, Indiana University Press, p. 343, ISBN 978-0-253-20490-5
  7. ^ Galvan, Manuel (1987-12-02), "Memorial Gives Way to Politics", Chicago Tribune, p. 1
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-30. Retrieved 2009-01-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-30. Retrieved 2009-01-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Michael Sneed and Rachel Hinton (June 21, 2017). "After 39 years in politics, Clerk David Orr won't seek re-election". Chicago Sun-Times.
  11. ^ Dardick, Hal (June 21, 2017). "Cook County Clerk David Orr won't seek 8th term". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2016-01-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Washington
Mayor of Chicago
November 25 – December 2, 1987
Succeeded by
Eugene Sawyer