Martin J. Oberman

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Martin J. Oberman served as alderman of Chicago's 43rd Ward from 1975 until 1987.[1] He ran for Illinois Attorney General in 1981, 1986, and again in 1994. He worked for a time as a lawyer in private practice.[2]

In 2014 he was selected to chair the board of directors of Metra, the Chicago commuter rail system.

Early life and education[edit]

In 1907, Marty’s grandfather brought the Oberman family to Springfield, Illinois where he opened up a grocery store. His father, M.D. “Mush” Oberman, was active in Springfield community affairs for forty years. His second son, Martin Jay, was born on April 23, 1945. At the age of 13, Marty was appointed as a page in the United States House of Representatives. Aside from the Capitol Page School, he attended Springfield’s Butler Grade School, Springfield High School, and graduated valedictorian from Culver Military Academy in 1962. In 1966, he received his B.A. from Yale University, and in 1969, graduated Order of the Coif at Wisconsin Law School where he also served as Note Editor of the University of Wisconsin Law Review.

Career and politics[edit]

After nearly three years (1969–1972) as a lawyer with the Chicago firm of Leibman, Williams, Bennett, Baird, and Minow, Oberman became General Counsel to the Illinois Racing Board under Anthony Scariano. Oberman investigated and prosecuted various corrupt racing interests in License Revocation proceedings for political payoffs, race-fixing and horse drugging.

In 1975, Oberman was elected Alderman from Chicago’s 43rd Ward. He had an adversarial relationship with the Chicago City Council’s political majority. In 1979 and again in 1983, he was re-elected as Alderman.

From 1983 to 1986, Marty supported Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American mayor in the era of the Council Wars.

After leaving the City Council, Oberman was appointed Chairman of the Shore Protection Commission, which was tasked with doing a complete rehabilitation of Chicago's shoreline to ensure environmental protection.

He ran for Illinois Attorney General in 1981, 1986, and again in 1994.

In November 2013, he took his seat on the board of Metra, the Chicago commuter rail system, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointee.[3]

Family life[edit]

Marty lives in Chicago with his wife Bonnie Oberman, who is the Chicago Director of Facing History and Ourselves.[4] His son, Justin, was a candidate for Illinois State Treasurer in the 2010 primary. His daughter, Maren, studies education.


Political offices
Preceded by
William Singer
Member of the Chicago City Council
43rd Ward

1975 – 1987
Succeeded by
Edwin Eisendrath