David Orr

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David Orr
David Orr on Live from the Heartland July 23 2012.png
County Clerk of Cook County
Assumed office
December 11, 1990
Preceded by Stanley Kusper
Mayor of Chicago
In office
November 25, 1987 – December 2, 1987
Preceded by Harold Washington
Succeeded by Eugene Sawyer
Member of the Chicago City Council
from the 49th Ward
In office
February 23, 1979 – December 10, 1990
Preceded by Homer Johnson[1]
Succeeded by Joe Moore
Personal details
Born David Duvall Orr
(1944-10-04) October 4, 1944 (age 73)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Children 4
Education Simpson College (BA)
Website Official website

David Duvall Orr (born October 4, 1944) is an American Democratic politician who has served as the County Clerk of Cook County since December 1990. Among other duties, Orr is responsible for the third largest election district in the United States. 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 acting Mayor of Chicago after the death of Harold Washington on November 25, 1987.[2]


Born in Chicago, Orr is a graduate of Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. In 2012, Orr was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.[3]

Aldermanic Career[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. 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.

Mayor of Chicago (1987)[edit]

When Mayor Washington died of a heart attack on November 25, 1987, Orr, as vice mayor, became mayor.[4][5] 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.[5][6]

County Clerk[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.[7] He also won easily in the general election, receiving more votes than any other candidate for county office.[8] 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.[9]


  1. ^ "Chicago Tribune - Historical Newspapers". 
  2. ^ Chicago's Loop By Janice A. Knox, Heather Olivia Belcher
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  4. ^ "Chicago Mourns Mayor Washington, Council Picks New Mayor Next Week", Chicago Tribune, p. 1, 1987-11-27 
  5. ^ a b Fremon, David K. (January 1, 1998), Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, Indiana University Press, p. 343, ISBN 978-0-253-20490-5  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ Galvan, Manuel (1987-12-02), "Memorial Gives Way to Politics", Chicago Tribune, p. 1 
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-30. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-30. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  9. ^ Michael Sneed and Rachel Hinton (June 21, 2017). "After 39 years in politics, Clerk David Orr won't seek re-election". Chicago Sun-Times. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Washington
Mayor of Chicago
November 25 – December 2, 1987
Succeeded by
Eugene Sawyer