Larry Svabek is Running for Alderperson in the 48th Ward

University of Chicago Lecturer and Organizer Seeks City Council Seat

Kyle Palmer
6 min readFeb 1

Larry Svabek tells me on Thursday, January 19th, that he first canvassed with his mother in Orland Park, Illinois. It was 2003, and Kathie Svabek was running for an executive board position for their local school district. If you were to ask Kathie today — as Larry now lectures at the University of Chicago — she might find her time on the board well spent. But the experience also came with an unexpected cost. Midway through her term, Kathie went public about hiring practices within the district.

“It was a tough trial for my mom. She had never run for office before. She won. She got elected to the school board and found out that there had been some violations of transparency laws and ended up being a whistleblower and received death threats for it. That really unsettled me as a kid.” — Larry Svabek

Southtown Star News Article Dated Thursday, March 23, 2006

“It was a scary moment [as a kid]. Why were people doing this and why are they so angry? I think at that moment I learned that we need to elect leaders like my mom who are courageous, who do the right thing, even when the right thing is unpopular in the group that you’re in. That set me off into politics.” — Larry Svabek

For some Chicagoans, meeting Larry Svabek on that journey has not been difficult. In 2014 as an undergraduate at Northwestern University, Svabek worked with NUVotes as its ‘Voter Van’ drove thru campus to register students to vote. But his most recent involvement occurred when the doctoral student wrote himself into the citywide discussion about modernizing the Chicago Police Department.

“I got very involved in organizing on the northside around what was called CPAC, the Civilian Police Accountability Council ordinance. Which was meant to create civilian and community control of police… We were sitting on street corners, making phone calls at night talking to people about it. Then it became clear we needed a larger coalition if we were going to pass something and I served on the negotiations that fused CPAC and the alternative — GAPA in…



Kyle Palmer

Midwesterner, Meet World