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Burton Natarus

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Name  Burton Natarus

Burton Natarus friendsofwolfpointcomnatarusjpg
Education  John F. Kennedy School of Government

Oral history with burton natarus part 5 of 6

Burton "Burt" Natarus (born 1933) was Alderman of the 42nd Ward of Chicago from 1971 to 2007.


Burton Natarus Oral History with Burton Natarus Part 5 of 6 YouTube

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Early life

Natarus is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Later, he taught at Chicago’s Loyola University on the subject of local government. Natarus also served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserves, earning paratrooper's "jump wings".

Public service

Natarus is active in a number of community groups: City Club of Chicago, Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, Central Michigan Association, North Dearborn Association, and River North Association.

Aldermanic career

Natarus was a Democrat. Natarus was a protégé of longtime 42nd Ward Democratic Committeeman and Cook County Board President George Dunne.

Natarus was first elected Alderman of the 42nd Ward in 1971. He was re-elected eight times, serving for thirty-six years. The 42nd Ward encompasses some of Chicago's wealthiest neighborhoods, including Streeterville, the Gold Coast, the Magnificent Mile, River North, and the Loop.

Natarus was Chairman of the Traffic and Safety Committee. He also served on six other committees: Finance; Zoning; Committees, Rules and Ethics; License and Consumer Protection; Budget and Government Operations; and Housing and Real Estate. In addition, he was a member of the Chicago Plan Commission, the Central Area Planning Task Force, and the Regional Transportation Task Force.

Natarus' pushed "good government" projects that appealed to his predominantly liberal constituents, such as arts funding, park expansion, and gun control. He became known as the Council's most skilled author of legislation, and was dubbed "the Master of the Ordinance."

Natarus avoided challenging then-Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Party on issues such as corruption, favoritism, racism, and police brutality. He was a reliable vote in favor of the Mayor's budget, and of any zoning changes requested by other Aldermen. The ordinances he crafted often included language that allowed the Mayor to give tax breaks, subsidies, and sweetheart deals to favored business interests. He was consistently supportive of property developers in his ward, and pointed to the vast array of big new buildings there as his accomplishment. In turn developers donated heavily to his campaign fund.

Natarus always supported Democratic Party endorsed candidates for state and county office in Democratic primaries. This continued under Daley's successors, Bilandic and Byrne. However, after Harold Washington won the Democratic nomination for Mayor, and subsequently the Mayoralty itself, in 1983, Natarus supported Washington (who was black) in the racially charged "Council Wars" that followed. After Washington's death and eventual replacement by Richard M. Daley, Natarus was as loyal to the son as he had been to his father. When Dunne finally retired as Ward Committeeman in 2003 precinct captains selected Natarus as his replacement.

Natarus' son owns an architectural metal company that was among the vendors for the build-out of the Park Grill restaurant in Millennium Park.


By 2006, Natarus had developed hostile relations with some members of the press. At times he responded to criticism with vulgar language or angry harangues. He had also lost the support of important labor unions, notably the SEIU.

In 2007, Natarus sought re-election for a tenth term. Observers noted that Natarus barely campaigned, missing several events at which he was to share a podium with challenger Brendan Reilly. The SEIU and other unions backed Reilly. Natarus was defeated in the General Election of February 27 by 8.6%.

Personal life

Natarus has two children, Jill Ellen and Michael, and one grandchild, Jacob.


Burton Natarus Wikipedia