Walter Burnett Jr.

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Walter Burnett, Jr.
City of Chicago Alderman
from the 27th Ward
Assumed office
May 1995 (1995-05)
Preceded by Dexter Watson
Personal details
Born (1963-08-16) August 16, 1963 (age 52)
Illinois Medical District
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Darlena Burnett (m. 1991)
Children Two sons
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Alma mater Northeastern Illinois University (B.A.)
Profession Alderman
Religion Christian
Website Official Website

Walter Burnett Jr. has served as the alderman for Chicago’s 27th ward since his first election in 1995. The 27th ward includes the West Loop, Greektown, East Garfield Park, Near North Side, Old Town, West Humboldt Park, West Town, Goose Island and the Illinois Medical District.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Walter Burnett, Jr. was born August 16, 1963 at Cook County Hospital in the Illinois Medical District.[2][3] Burnett grew up in the Cabrini–Green public housing project, in Chicago. Burnett served two years in jail for armed bank robbery in Kankakee when he was seventeen.[4] Burnett attended Harold Washington College and University of Illinois at Chicago, where he received his associate’s degree. In 1998, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University while alderman.

Political career[edit]

Burnett joined the Young Democrats of Cook County in 1989 and served as their Chairman for two terms; as Chairman, he tried to motivate and educate young people to become involved in the political process. Burnett also had an 11-year career working for the Cook County government, where he had a variety of jobs including working as special assistant to Jesse White who was then Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Burnett later worked on Jesse White’s campaign for Illinois Secretary of State.[3]

Public service[edit]

Burnett is assistant coach for the Jesse White Tumbling Team.[citation needed]

Currently, he serves on the boards of several organizations: the United Center Economic Development Board, Leslie’s Place, Northwestern University Settlement Association, Family Guidance Center, Windows of Opportunity Inc., and The Inner Voice Inc.[citation needed]

Aldermanic career[edit]

Despite a 1993 Illinois state law that barred felons from holding local office, Burnett ran for alderman in the new 27th ward.[4] Burnett defeated Dexter Watson, a protege of Rickey R. Hendon who had been appointed to succeed Hendon after Hendon's election to the Illinois Senate.[3]

In his first year as alderman, Burnett organized the first Stay in School Picnic, which grew into an annual event which feeds 5,000 people and hands out school supplies to 2,000 school children.[citation needed]

Burnett faced tough choices when his old housing project, Cabrini–Green, was targeted for tear-down, but he ultimately supported the measure. Burnett worked to ensure that some affordable housing remained in the neighborhood.[citation needed]

Burnett is vice-Chairman of the Health Committee. He serves on six additional committees: Budget and Government Operations; Buildings; Committees, Rules, and Ethics; Education; Finance; and Transportation and the Public Way.

Burnett paid his mother, Dorothy Burnett, nearly $20,000 in 2008 from his taxpayer-funded aldermanic expense allowance. "I have no problem helping my mother," Burnett said. "That's my mother. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here. ... If I could get her Mayor Daley's job, I would get her Mayor Daley's job."[5]

Personal life[edit]

Alderman Burnett is married to Darlena Williams-Burnett. Williams-Burnett is Chief Deputy Recorder for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds and a former Cook County commissioner. Williams-Burnett challenged incumbent Congressman Danny K. Davis in the February, 2010 Democratic primary.[6] Burnett and Williams-Burnett have two sons, Jawaharlal and Walter.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Lulay, Stephanie (2015-02-24). "Longtime Ald. Walter Burnett Wins 27th Ward Election, Landing Sixth Term". Retrieved 2016-06-20. 
  2. ^ "About Me - Facebook". 
  3. ^ a b c Dumke, Mick (2012-01-09). "The making of an alderman". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2016-06-20. 
  4. ^ a b "Criminal Past A Shadow New Alderman Just Can't Shed". Chicago Tribune. 1995-04-30. Retrieved 2016-06-20. 
  5. ^ Dardick, Hal (2009-08-15). "What's in Chicago aldermanic expense accounts?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-08-18.  External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Dumke, Mick (2010-01-28). "Congressman Danny Davis Faces Some Real Opposition For Once". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2010-01-29.  External link in |work= (help)

External links[edit]