Sattler, the chief operating officer of the 100 Club of Chicago and a longtime friend of the alderman's family, will continue his family's decades-long legacy of public service, Cullerton said.
"Heather will be a great alderman," Cullerton said. "She's a great person."
Cullerton, who said in July when he announced his retirement that he would not endorse anyone running to succeed him, said he changed his mind and decided to endorse Sattler after surveying the field of seven candidates in the 38th Ward race.
Heather Cherone says Cullerton has known Sattler since she was a kid:
In addition to the alderman's endorsement, Sattler won the support Tuesday of the 38th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, which is led by 38th Ward Committeeman P.J. Cullerton, the alderman's sister.
"Heather has the qualifications as well as the drive and passion to be a great alderman," P.J. Cullerton said. "She's going to make a great alderman. She's already done a lot for the community."
Sattler said she was honored by the endorsement from Cullerton and the ward organization, but said she was running for alderman on her own merits and accomplishments.
"I think they endorsed me because I can do the work" of helping businesses thrive, improving schools and making the community safer, Sattler said.
Sattler, 39, is the chief operating officer of the 100 Club, which helps the families of police and firefighters who die in the line of duty.
The 38th Ward has been represented by a member of the Cullerton family since 1973, when the alderman's father, Thomas, won the seat. Thomas Cullerton died in office in 1993, and former Mayor Richard M. Daley picked Tim Cullerton's brother-in-law, Thomas Allen, to replace him. When Allen became a Cook County judge, Tim Cullerton got the nod from Daley and won a full term in 2011.
P.J. Cullerton has been the 38th Ward committeeman for 20 years, and members of the Cullerton family have been a part of the 38th Ward Regular Democratic Organization dating back to the 1930s.
Sattler won the organization's endorsement after proving she could collect enough signatures to get on the ballot and run an efficient and effective campaign, P.J. Cullerton said.
The organization did not interview all of the candidates or conduct a formal process before endorsing Sattler, P.J. Cullerton said.
"We wanted to give the community some direction," P.J. Cullerton said.
While Sattler isn't related to the Cullertons by blood, she has known the alderman her entire life. Her mother, Rita Sattler, was Allen and Cullerton's chief of staff until she retired earlier this year after 21 years running the 38th Ward Office.
Seven candidates are vying to replace Cullerton, including Sattler and Ald. Nicholas Sposato, who now represents the 36th Ward. That ward was redrawn significantly by the new City Council map that moved most of Dunning to the 38th Ward.
Sposato said he was not surprised by the endorsement of Sattler, saying her family has long been a part of the 38th Ward political "machine."
"They want to keep it in the family," Sposato said, promising to bring "independent" leadership to the 38th Ward if elected Feb. 24. "It is their machine. They can do what they want with it."
Sattler said it was unfair to tag her as a machine candidate, saying she relied on friends and family to launch her campaign.
The other candidates in the race are Belinda Cadiz; Realtor Tom Caravette; Carmen Hernandez, a city water department investigator; Cook County Police Sgt. Jerry Paszek; and Michael Duda.
Challenges to the nominating petitions filed by Paszek and Duda are still pending before the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
Caravette and Hernandez said they shared Sposato's lack of surprise at Cullerton's endorsement of Sattler.
"It was always a done deal," Hernandez said. "She grew up in the alderman's office."
Caravette said the endorsement was evidence of politics-as-usual in the 38th Ward.
"I'm concerned it will means voices will be drowned out by all of the money that is sure to start flowing now," Caravette said.
Paszek said he was disappointed the democratic organization and Cullerton endorsed a candidate after saying they would not and did not interview all of the candidates before making a decision.
"Our campaign will continue," Paszek said.
Duda and Cadiz could not be reached for comment.
In races where no candidate earns 50 percent of the votes cast, a runoff between the top two candidates will take place April 7.
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