Committeeman David Fagus, down but not out! | Bleader

Committeeman David Fagus, down but not out!


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David Fagus
  • Paul Beaty/AP
  • David Fagus
About a year ago, David Fagus's life was a blur of activity. He'd just started a new job with the county, and he was running for reelection as Democratic committeeman of the 49th Ward.

"I was on the go all the time," he says.

And then it came to a crashing halt.

"I got this infection," he says. "I didn't think much of it. But it got worse."

Eventually, he went to the emergency room and discovered that his kidney was failing. It's been hell ever since.

"I have polycystic kidney disease—or PKD," says Fagus. "I've been in and out of the hospital for about a year. It's an inherited disease. My father had it.

"One of my kidneys shut down. Not sure if the infection brought it on. We don't know. I had to go on kidney dialysis. I didn't have strength or stamina. It was like climbing Mount Everest to get up the stairs. A couple of times I fell and couldn't get up. It's been pretty rough."

Obviously, there's never a good time to be stricken with kidney disease, but the timing couldn't have been worse for Fagus. He'd just left a job with the state to take one with the county, so he wasn't eligible for full medical benefits.

Unable to work, he quickly used up his sick days and had to resign. Without a regular paycheck or health benefits, he ran through his life savings, came close to losing his house, and racked up about $500,000 in medical bills.

His 75-year-old mother moved to Chicago from Ohio to help him get by. It's all almost too painful to recollect.

"I've been getting better," he says. "I can drive to dialysis. I want to get back to work and live a regular life. But unfortunately my blood pressure's low. So they can't put me on a kidney transplant list."

On Monday, 49th Ward alderman Joe Moore and Cook County Board commissioner Larry Suffredin will cohost a fund-raiser for Fagus from 5:30 to 8:30 PM at the Oasis, 6809 N. Sheridan.

As you may or may not know, Alderman Moore and I haven't been seeing eye to eye on local politics these days. But we do agree on this: Fagus is a good guy who could use a little help from his friends.

"There's no political position less glamorous than committeeman," says Moore. "Dave spent the last 20 years behind the scenes toiling for people like me and working for the betterment of the Rogers Park community. This is our chance to show him some appreciation."

Curiously, Fagus and Moore did not start out as allies. Moore came out of Cook County clerk David Orr's organization. Fagus was part of a rival political group headed by former Democratic committeeman Lee Preston.

In 1991, when Moore first ran for alderman, Fagus supported his opponent, Bob Clarke.

"Actually, he was Bob's chief of staff," Moore recalls. "When Lee Preston stepped down and Dave decided to run for committeeman, we met for lunch. He said he didn't want to be committeeman unless he could work with me and David [Orr]. I said, 'That sounds good to me. Let's join forces.' We've been friends ever since."

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