CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County’s first wedding of the New Year was also the last performed by County Clerk David Orr.
Since 1991, Orr has married the couple looking to obtain the first marriage license of the year, providing donated gifts for the newlyweds. It’s a tradition that is now coming to an end, as Orr is not seeking an eighth term in office. After 27 years as clerk, the icon of progressive politics is retiring.
He looked back on his battles with the political machine Tuesday, as he sat down with CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley.
“Its’ not like I’m going to be regretting not doing it next year,” Orr said.
However, he said he will regret losing a platform to make government work for the little guy.
“The bottom line is Chicago is still way too much an old political operation, which costs the taxpayers because of fraud, mismanagement, or both, on a fairly regular basis.”
Orr battled the machine as 49th-Ward alderman, a council wars supporter of former Mayor Harold Washington.
“I wish the coalition could have stayed on track,” he said.
After Washington’s death, Orr filled in as mayor for one tumultuous week, which can be noted by his picture inside the mayor’s office.
“It’s so funny — the people, the ones who’ve been around awhile, still call you mayor on the street.”
But machine regulars chose Ald. Eugene Sawyer as mayor; so Orr moved on to the Clerk’s Office for almost three decades. Still, fight hasn’t left him.
“We have too many people in the Cook County Democratic party that are more pay to play, and here for the wrong reasons,” Orr said. “I may respect some of those individuals, but I will fight them as long as I can.”
Another part of Orr’s legacy is his strong support of gay rights. He issued the license for the first same-sex wedding in Cook County in 2014. He also championed easier access to voting, supporting election reforms including motor voter, early voting and election day registration.