Mayor Jane Byrne Biography

Mayor of Chicago, 1979-1983

  • Democratic Party
  • Defeated Michael A. Bilandic in primary election February 27, 1979
  • Elected 50th mayor of Chicago April 3, 1979; defeated Wallace D. Johnson (Republican) and Andrew Pulley (Socialist Workers) in general election
  • Inauguration: April 16, 1979
  • Chicago's first female mayor


  • Born May 24, 1933 in Chicago
  • First married William Byrne, a pilot who died in 1959; together they had one daughter.
  • Asked by Mayor Richard J. Daley to work with the Democratic Party organization in Chicago in 1960
  • Appointed commissioner of consumer sales in 1969; in this capacity took over functions of Public Vehicle Licenses Commission when it was abolished in 1976
  • Appointed co-chair of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee in 1971
  • Fired by Mayor Michael A. Bilandic from consumer sales commissioner post in 1977
  • In 1978, married Jay McMullen, reporter for the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Died November 14, 2014
  • Buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston


  • Benjamin, Robert. "Jane Byrne Builds Her Own 'Camelot'." Chicago Tribune, February 28, 1979, p. 11.
  • Bliss, George, and Robert Davis. "IRS Probing Taxi Scandal." Chicago Tribune, January 30, 1976, p. 3.
  • Grossman, James R., Ann Durkin Keating and Janice L. Reiff, editors. Encyclopedia of Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 2004.
  • Unger, Robert. "'Tis a Great Day for Jane, Jay." Chicago Tribune, March 18, 1978, p. B6.
  • Wiedrich, Bob. "Jane Byrne may have Her Eye on a Big White House." Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1979, p. 5.
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