News

He took over Ed Burke’s old office. There’s some cleaning up to do.

August 15, 2019

A.D. Quig, Crains Chicago

Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, took over the Finance Committee in the wake of federal scrutiny of Ald. Ed Burke, 14th,who had reigned over the powerful office since the 1980s.

Waguespack, 49, who served stints in Kenya with the Peace Corps and advised government leaders after the war in Kosovo, says he’s uniquely qualified for cleanup duty. Waguespack lives in Bucktown with his wife, Jade, and two young sons.

So this is the grass-green carpet I’d heard about, left over from Burke’s decades in this office. You’ve suggested using it as a putting green. Seriously?
It’s not really a joke—it’s seriously some good stuff for putting on. Bring your own putter.

Tell me what used to be on the walls.
The walls were covered with caricatures and self-portraits. The case over there had guns in it. Some of the staff were complaining about mold, so we’re going to try to clean the place up and make it a little bit more workable space.

Physically and professionally clean it up.
Yes. Once the budget starts, once we start looking at the bond deals, the pension issues, we’re going to have to staff up on more policy people. Obviously you’ve seen his budget before—it was almost $2.2 million. I think we’ll be down around $600,000. A lot of things are kind of a wreck. The FBI was in here, took whatever they wanted—both on the technical side, the servers, and a lot of boxes. And I’m sure we won’t be seeing those.

What did you work on in the Peace Corps?
Building water tanks and wells and catchment systems for schools and clinics. Then I worked in a mission hospital building water catchment there. It was a time when there was a lot of famine, there were a lot of people coming from Somaliland and there was obviously the AIDS epidemic. Villages were being wiped out. It was pretty intense.

You came back from Kenya, went to law school, worked at Kirkland & Ellis—why go to Kosovo?
I had a great professor in Hank Perritt at Villanova Law School, and he had a program called Project Bosnia. We were asked to help work with the war crimes tribunal. We were using mapping technology to basically take where incidents had happened with militia groups and where the victims were attacked, killed or massacred, and we would pinpoint where those different places were on maps in different parts of Kosovo, into the Serb, Macedonia borders.

What are the most important things from Kosovo and Kenya you bring to this role?
Trying to understand not just cultures, but how every human has the same kind of issues and how you can try to help them. Sure, you learn about corruption and how to deal with it in different ways, but the experiences there solidified my beliefs about where you can make a difference.