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Alderman of mystery: Marty Quinn

The rookie 13th Ward councilman is off the grid.

Most Chicago aldermen have embraced the Internet with the gusto they usually reserve for receiving a campaign check. Nearly every councilman has a website, many blast out e-newsletters, and you can friend 46 of the city’s 50 aldermen on Facebook and follow 32 of them on Twitter. To its credit, the City Council is wired.

There’s only one alderman who’s completely inactive online: Marty Quinn. Despite being the City Council’s second youngest member, the 38-year-old has no website, not even a ward e-mail address. The only way to get in touch with the rookie Southwest Side alderman is by phone, which Quinn apparently isn’t fond of, either; messages left at his office weren’t returned. Quinn ducked out of a City Council meeting last week before we could chat with him, and an aide at his 13th Ward service office said she had no biographical info on Quinn to pass along.

What we do know is that Quinn has had the luxury of not putting himself out there. He’s a former campaign staffer for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who resides in the ward and happens to be its committeeman. The alderman didn’t have to campaign, landing in office by way of a cheap machine trick. Both Quinn and his Madigan-ally predecessor, Frank Olivo, filed nominating petitions for the 2011 election. After the deadline passed, Olivo dropped out, clearing the way for Quinn to run unopposed.

“Machine politicians try to stay quiet,” says UIC poli-sci prof and former alderman Dick Simpson, “as long as they’ve got the ties in the neighborhood and the precinct captains to deliver the vote.”

Jeff Bartow, director of the Southwest Organizing Project, which operates in Quinn’s ward, says the alderman is just old-school. “He gets out on the blocks, walks and talks and listens to people.” If so, you won’t see him humble-bragging about it on Twitter.

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