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Sawyer Says He’ll Run In ’89 For Remainder Of Four-Year Term

January 18, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ Mayor Eugene Sawyer, who rose from alderman to the city’s highest office after the death of Harold Washington, announced Sunday he will run in a 1989 election to serve out the last two years of the four-year term.

″I’m the mayor, the man in the chair,″ Sawyer said. ″I’m going to remain the mayor. I’m going to run in 1989.″

Sawyer was made acting mayor by the City Council on Dec. 2, a week after Washington, the city’s first black mayor, suffered a massive heart attack at his desk and died. Washington had been re-elected in April to a four-year term.

Sawyer was elected with the help of most of the city’s white aldermen, but that support cost him some backing in the black community. Some blacks have accused him of making deals at the expense of carrying out Washington’s agenda of open government.

″I need the support of the black community,″ Sawyer said during an interview on radio station WBMX. ″I want that support.

″I’m the best candidate,″ he said. ″I’ve served this city for 16 years in the City Council. ... I will serve all segments of the city.″

Sawyer is expected to be challenged by another black, Alderman Timothy Evans, who lost the vote that followed Washington’s death. He was Washington’s floor leader in the Council and currently chairs the Finance Committee.

But Sawyer warned that two blacks competing in the Democratic primary in February 1989 would split the black vote and guarantee a victory by a white candidate.

In 1983, two white candidates - then-Mayor Jane Byrne and Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley - split the white vote and Washington won the primary. He later defeated Republican Bernard Epton in the general election.

At a South Side mass to honor slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Evans said he would disclose his plans Monday. His campaign hinges on what the people want, he said.

″I am prepared to accept the decision of the citizens of this city,″ Evans said. Sawyer’s announcement ″can’t change that.″

Sawyer, 54, a native of Alabama, has been dogged by questions surrounding a $30,000 payment he received more than 10 years ago while an alderman.

For a month, he maintained that the money was a finder’s fee for helping attorney Fred Sudak, now a Cook Couny judge, get a bank loan to buy land.

On Thursday, Sawyer instead said it was a fee for helping a Sudak client find financing for a shopping center in Sawyer’s West Side ward. He said he introduced Sudak to a banker at Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust.

″I didn’t ask for any fee; I didn’t arrange it,″ Sawyer said Sunday.

But when reminded he still accepted it, he said, ″Sure I did.″

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