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After 'Awesome' Talks with Rahm, Napolitano to Remain Independent for Now

 Anthony Napolitano
Anthony Napolitano
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Anthony Napolitano

EDISON PARK — Ald.-elect Anthony Napolitano (41st) will not join the Chicago City Council's Progressive Caucus — at least for now, he said Thursday.

Napolitano, who will take office May 18 after defeating Ald. Mary O'Connor, said he does not want to join a group before getting the lay of the land at City Hall.

"I'm going to be the Anthony caucus for a while," Napolitano said.

Napolitano, who campaigned with the support of the Service Employees International Union, said he has a lot in common with the members of the Progressive Caucus, but did not want to start his first term as alderman as a member of a group.

"I will continue to strongly support the unions," said Napolitano, who will become the council's only Republican once he is sworn in.

Heather Cherone says Napolitano has chatted with the mayor:

Napolitano's last day as a Chicago firefighter was Tuesday.

"It was brutal," Napolitano said, calling his fellow firefighters in Montclare his extended family. "My eyes got a little watery."

The new 41st Ward office will open May 19 at 7442 N. Harlem Ave., Napolitano said.

Napolitano — who campaigned as a "regular guy" — promised to oppose any attempt to raise property taxes to fill the budget gap created by the city's looming pension crisis and make a $550 million pension payment to police and fire pension systems by 2016.

In addition, Napolitano said during the campaign that he would be a "thorn in [Mayor Rahm Emanuel's] side" to ensure that the 41st Ward, which includes Edison Park, Norwood Park, O'Hare and parts of Edgebrook, gets its fair share of city services and resources.

O'Connor frequently appeared with Emanuel and voted to support the mayor's proposals more than 90 percent of time. A political action committee funded by Emanuel's supporters spent approximately $36,000 to boost O'Connor's campaign, according to records filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

But Napolitano said Thursday he was looking forward to working with Emanuel, calling two brief conversations he had with the mayor "awesome."

"It was a great conversation," Napolitano said. "He was awesome, and talked to me about how to get through the transition."

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