Who Represents the Neighbor?

One way of understanding who represents a neighbor is their elected representative. Nonetheless, there are other neighborhood groups and associations that claim they also represent the neighbors.

In the 50‘s, 60’s and 70’s, the then Mayor Daley in Chicago was the leader of the municipal government and of the city’s Democratic Party. The Party was organized with Precinct Captains at the most local level, then Ward Committeemen at the ward level. These Captains and Committeemen traditionally held jobs in the government and acted together as a part of what was popularly known as “the Machine.” Mayor Daley believed that the neighbors were represented by the local party officials and their elected alderperson. He was unsympathetic to the idea of an independent neighborhood organization. When he or his organization were challenged by various kinds of neighborhood groups, he often responded by saying, “Who do you represent? We have a neighborhood organization with Precinct Captains, Ward Committeemen and the Alderperson. They really represent the neighborhood because they were chosen in an official election available to all the residents in the neighborhood. You don’t really represent the neighborhood because you don’t involve everybody.”

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