CALUMET CITY | For 7th Ward Alderman Antoine Collins, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans is a long-time family friend, as Evans and Collins’ father met many decades ago at a Chicago South Side barbershop.
Collins drew on that friendship Thursday, getting Evans to preside over the ceremony in which Collins, six other aldermanic candidates, Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush, city Clerk Nyota Figgs and city Treasurer Gerald Tarka took their oaths of office.
The hour-long ceremony took place in a City Council chamber that was packed with relatives and friends of the people who won the April 9 municipal elections to serve terms running through 2017.
One by one, Evans ran through the ranks of Calumet City officials — taking a bit of special interest when he swore in 4th Ward Alderman Ramonde Williams, the lone new face on the post-election council.
“You will do a great job,” Evans told Williams after administering the oath of office, while saying of his City Council days in general, “I recognize how important good government is to a community.”
As for Collins, Evans recalled how his friend would boast that his son would someday be a politician. “Sometimes, you’ve got to put the idea in a child’s head for his own good,” the judge quipped.
Former alderman Edward Gonzalez was among those crammed into the council chambers to observe, and he said the ceremony is important to the officials who are able to get themselves re-elected consistently.
“It says a lot about their character that they are able to keep getting re-elected,” he said.
Qualkinbush admitted to being nervous during the ceremony, and her voice choked up at several points while trying to make a statement.
“It is an emotional moment for us all because we had to go through a lot during the campaign to get to this point,” she said, adding that she has no intention of giving up the mayoral post anytime soon.
“I love this job,” said Qualkinbush, who has served as mayor for 10 years and has been in city government for more than three decades. “As long as the people want me, I will serve them.”