About the 27th Ward Democratic Organization
Jesse White was elected the 37th Illinois Secretary of State in
November 1998. In November 2002, he was reelected by winning all
102 counties and garnering more than 2.3 million votes — the
largest vote total by any candidate for Illinois statewide office in a
quarter of a century.
Jesse White brought integrity and innovation to the Illinois Secretary
of State's office. During his first term, he created a strong,
independent Inspector General’s office, managed the largest
distribution of new Illinois license plates in the state's history,
successfully fought for tougher DUI laws, reformed the state's
Commercial Driver's License program, and created the office's first
The Illinois Secretary of State's office is the largest and most diverse
office of its kind in the nation, providing more direct services to the
people of Illinois than any other public agency. White's office issues
state ID cards, vehicle license plates and titles, registers
corporations, enforces the Illinois Securities Act, administers the
Organ Donor Program, and licenses drivers and maintains driver
records. As State Librarian, Secretary White oversees the State
Library and literacy programs, and as State Archivist, he maintains
records of legal or historic value.
Prior to his election as Secretary of State, White served as Cook
County Recorder of Deeds — a job he was first elected to in 1992
and re-elected in 1996. Before that, he served 16 years in the Illinois
General Assembly, representing the most culturally, economically
and racially diverse district in Illinois.
In 1959, White founded the internationally known Jesse White
Tumbling Team to serve as a positive alternative for children
residing in Chicago's Cabrini-Green and Henry Horner public
housing communities. Since its inception, more than 8,400 young
men and women have performed with the team. White has spent
more than 44 years working as a volunteer with the team to help
kids stay away from gangs, drugs, alcohol and smoking, and to help
set at-risk youth on the path to success. The program has received
White served our country as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army's 101st
Airborne Division and as a member of the Illinois National Guard.
He played professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs
organization, which was followed by a 33-year career with the
Chicago public school system as a teacher and administrator.
Jesse White earned his bachelor of science degree from Alabama
State College (now Alabama State University) in 1957, where he
was a two-sport athlete earning all-conference honors in baseball
and basketball. In May 1995, White was inducted into the
Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. He was an all-city
baseball and basketball player at Chicago's Waller High School
(now Lincoln Park Academy) and was inducted into the Chicago
Public League Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in
June 1995. In 1999, he was inducted into the Alabama State
University Sports Hall of Fame. Born in alton, Illinois, he now lives
on Chicago's near-north side.
Walter Burnett, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1963; his family
lived in the Cabrini Green Housing Complex (Cabrini Green).
Growing up in Cabrini Green was the start of Walter’s political
career. His father was the local precinct captain and his father often
took Walter with him to work the precinct.
Walter has been a member of the Young Democrats of Cook County
(YDCC) since 1989. This membership has and continues to be a
source of pride for him because of the experience his tenure
brought him, utilizing the knowledge in many of the political
challenges in his life. In 1990, Walter became YDCC’s North Area
Chairman; this consisted of the north part of the Chicago area. In
1991, Walter was elected YDCC City Vice-Chairman and in the
same year Executive Director of the Minority Caucus of the Young
Democrats of America, the national organization. Walter continued
to move quickly up the ranks of the YDCC. Elected Chairman in
1992 he successfully won re-election to a second term as
Chairman in 1993, to date being the only African American to serve
two terms. In his many roles with the YDCC, one of Walter’s main
priorities was motivating and educating young people to become
involved in the political process. Today this continues to be a priority
Walter had an eleven-year career with Cook County government
before being elected alderman of the 27th Ward. Working his way up
from various positions, from 1984 through 1989 he was a draftsman
with the Highway department, in 1989 he was an engineer’s
assistant in the Construction, Maintenance and Operations
department moving up to an operational engineer for the same
department from 1989 through 1992. From December of 1992 to his
1995 election as alderman, Walter served as a special assistant to
Jesse White who was then the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. In
this role, Walter was responsible for public information and acted as
the liaison for the Recorder to Deeds working with the public and
other elected officials.
Walter served on the Executive Board of the 42nd Ward Democratic
Organization as Sergeant of Arms with fellow board member Jesse
White, then State Representative. A position both held until the 1992
Ward re-mapping. When Jesse White ran for Cook County Recorder
of Deeds in 1992, Walter served as the Deputy Campaign Manager.
Jesse White was elected the 37th Illinois Secretary of State in
November 1998. During Jesse White’s first race for Secretary of
State of Illinois, Walter acted as a special political consultant
assisting the campaign in the first successful statewide race.
Walter first ran for Alderman of the 27th Ward in 1995. He won that
election and went on to win his second term in 1999, recently
running for his successful third term in February of 2003. When
Walter won the 27th Ward Aldermanic race in 1995, he was one of
the youngest alderman in the history of the City Council at the age of
Walter works in many different ways to support the young people of
our city. He has been an assistant coach of the Jesse White
Tumblers (Tumblers) for 10+ years. In this position, he serves as a
positive role model for the young boys and girls who live in and
around the Cabrini Green Housing Complex, as he also grew up in
Cabrini. To raise money for the Tumblers, Walter ran in the 1999
LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon®. He completed the race finishing
in the top third; raising money to help the Jesse White Tumblers go
to Hong Kong to perform.
In 1995, the first year that Walter was alderman he organized the
first Stay in School Picnic with the help of the 27th Ward
Committeeman Jesse White and the 1st Deputy Recorder of Deeds,
Darlena Williams-Burnett. Within a few years the picnic grew so
rapidly, a not-for-profit, the Chicago Neighbors United was formed to
actively work on the picnic year-round. This picnic and neighborhood
parade feed 5,000 people, give school supplies to 2,500 school age
children, and offer numerous other incentives to the participants.
The picnic offers entertainment and games for the young people
and seniors of the ward in a daylong celebration. It is now in its
Walter attended both Harold Washington College and the University
of Illinois at Chicago before earning an Associate Degree and a
Certificate in Mechanical Drafting from Southeastern Illinois
University. He went on to earn his Bachelor Degree while he was a
full-time alderman in 1998 from Northeastern Illinois University.
Walter is presently serving his third term as alderman of the 27th
Ward. He is a sitting member of seven committees: Budget and
Government Operations, Buildings, Committees, Rules and Ethics,
Education, Finance, Health (Vice-Chair) and Transportation and
Walter also serves on the Board of the following organizations: The
United Center Economic Development Board, Leslie’s Place,
Harold Washington Advisory Board, CHA Alumni Association, St.
Leonard’s Ministries Advisory Board, Family Guidance Centers, Inc.,
Deborah’s Place, Windows of Opportunity, Inc., Haymarket Center
Advisory Board, the YMCA Youth and Government Advisory Board,
and The Inner Voice, Inc.
27th Ward Regular Democratic Organization
13th, 35th, 37th Precincts
Committeeman Jesse White
Alderman Walter Burnett
Thomas Ned Benigno, Precinct Captain "Always at your service"