The Irish-American Catholic schools grads, just six months apart in age, work just around the corner from each other near Devon and Northwest Hwy. in Chicago’s leafy northwest corner.
Mary O’Connor runs O’Connor’s Market and Catering and the Blackthorn Manor banquet facility. She has run the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce and the Edison Park Turkey Trot.
For the last 15 years, Maurita Gavin has been a top administrative aide to Ald. Brian Doherty — the go-to person in his office for getting things done in the ward.
These success-story, girls-from-the-neighborhood might be the kind you’d expect to see sharing laughs over a cup of tea at Le Flour Bakery across from the Edison Park Metra station. Gavin even held her mother’s birthday party at O’Connor’s banquet hall a few years ago.
But the two — who face off in the 41st runoff next week — aren’t exchanging pleasantries anymore, particularly as the field of candidates narrowed from 11 to two.
O’Connor is the Democratic committeeman for the ward. Doherty has been the council’s lone Republican for 20 years, and Gavin could continue in that vein.
Appearing recently on WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight,’’ Gavin said she was qualified to be alderman because “I have a lot of integrity and character and recently information has surfaced in the race that my opponent was illegally registered to vote at her place of business and did so several times.”
What’s wrong with O’Connor voting from the banquet hall she owns?
“My understanding is it is illegal to register at your place of business,” Gavin said later. “I don’t think her business is zoned for her to be able to vote there.”
But the board of elections records no “non-voting’’ zones in the city.
O’Connor admits she did vote five times from her business when she was “in transition” between houses from 2004 to 2007.
Gavin fires back: “That’s a long time to be ‘in transition.’ ’’
O’Connor says she has the business experience that Gavin lacks. She supports a city inspector general with power to investigate aldermen.
Gavin said she is more familiar than O’Connor with the ward’s needs, and believes an inspector general that could probe aldermen would give the mayor too much power.
They do agree on some issues, however: both say they will fight any plan to redeploy police from this low-crime area to higher-crime neighborhoods.
And of the 14 runoffs, theirs is the only one between two women — guaranteeing the 41st Ward will get its first female alderman no matter who prevails.
Gavin is endorsed by Republican officials and takes conservative stands on social issues that generally don’t come before the City Council. O’Connor is endorsed by Democratic officials and is more liberal on social issues.
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Ex-Chamber of Commerce head, long-time aldermanic aide face off in 41st ward - Chicago Sun-Times