Percy Giles understands



Percy Giles is praying for Arenda Troutman. “I’m not one to judge Alderman Troutman,” he said this week. “My heart goes out to her.”  

He should be able to empathize. Before Troutman was charged with bribery Monday (PDF), Giles was the last sitting member of the City Council to be busted by the feds—and the last to be up for reelection at the same time. Troutman has vowed to continue her campaign; Giles wound up holding on to his 37th Ward aldermanic seat in February 1999, only to get convicted soon after of taking a $10,000 bribe from a federal mole and $81,000 from the operators of an illegal dump.  

Sentenced to 39 months in prison, he resigned from the council—Daley appointed current alderman Emma Mitts to replace him—and while locked up became a minister. Giles now preaches every other Sunday at Temple Faith Missionary Baptist Church, on the west side.

A couple of months ago he decided to run for his old seat. His platform: helping ex-offenders. “It’s hard to get a job as a convicted felon,” Giles said. “I know.” 

Mitts, best known for welcoming Chicago’s first Wal-Mart to her ward, will likely have the support of Daley, the chamber of commerce, and neighboring alderman Ike Carothers. And there are five other challengers in addition to Giles. But Giles says he’ll do a mailing and walk the ward--some of his old precinct captains are going to help him knock on doors.

His memory is a little selective. When I asked him if it was common for aldermen to be approached with payoff deals, he said, “I can’t say anyone came up to me and ever offered me bribes.”   

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