Residents of Crook County…oops we mean Cook County will have the opportunity to make some real change as all 17 board seats are up for grabs.
You don’t think the people of Cook county forgot about that little thing called a “sugar tax” do you? If the residents of Cook County want to rid themselves of politicians who are only in it for the money and not for what is best for the people, the primary elections are where the real change will begin.
Take a look at who’s being endorsed for the Cook County Board as reported by the Chicago Tribune:
Last year’s geyserlike public eruption over a sweetened beverage tax — think Mento mints in, um, Diet Coke — left voters with a big win and an abundance of candidates for the Cook County Board, which foolishly had imposed the revenue grab while pretending it was all about health benefits. (If it was, why were nonsugary drinks also taxed?) We credit board members for repealing it, although we don’t know if they learned anything or only wanted to save their fannies.
All 17 board seats are up for election this year. Contested races in the March 20 primary:
1st District: On a board with some members who display the most energy on paydays, incumbent Democrat Richard Boykin is an activist. Boykin, an attorney, pushes board discussions on life-and-death issues such as violent crime and drug abuse. He angered some officials with his robust opposition to the soda tax and his suggestion that better training of county health and jail workers would save a fortune in legal fees, settlement costs and court judgments.
Boykin’s opponent, Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson, advocates tax increases to balance budgets. Asked if he favors or opposes privatizing services and downsizing the county’s workforce, Johnson responded: “I oppose privatization, consolidation, and closures.” He wants an annual charge on large employers for each of their low-wage workers, with proceeds redistributed to low-income workers and programs that serve them. Johnson’s agenda, in sum, would raise taxes, shield public employment from economic realities and encourage businesses to leave Cook County. Boykin is endorsed.
2nd District: Democratic committeemen last July picked Dennis Deer to replace the late Commissioner Robert Steele. We sometimes worry about Deer, a psychologist who looked mighty anxious last fall as he tried to reconcile his fealty to board President Toni Preckwinkle with his vote to kill her soda tax. He’s also working to square his policy ideas, such as tightening spending yet also opposing privatization. His synthesis: “Simply put, I am not in favor of raising taxes. However I am in favor of streamlining Cook County operations.” Deer also sent us the first Tribune questionnaire responses ever to advocate “financial stewardship based on ethical principles.” Paul J. Montes II, Lupe Aguirre, Darryl D. Smith and Eddie Johnson III also are on the ballot. Deer is endorsed.
3rd District: Pause to honor soul singer-songwriter Jerry “Iceman” Butler for three-plus decades of board service championing health care for the poor. Of seven Democrats seeking to replace him, our choice is attorney Bill Lowry by a hair over Joshua Gray, an officer at KIPP charter schools, and Charise Williams, who works for the state treasurer. Lowry, who’s from a family long prominent in the civil rights movement, told us he’d cut county employment before raising taxes. He understands that unincorporated areas are getting more than their fair share of county spending. And while he doesn’t favor privatization, he advocates competition between public employees and private contractors to see who best delivers services.
Lowry has great promise. If he succeeds Toni Preckwinkle as board president, remember, you read it first in a Tribune editorial. Lowry is endorsed. Also on the ballot: Steven R. Wolfe, Erick M. Nickerson, Patricia Horton and Horace “Washington” Howard.
4th District: At the start of the 2014 election cycle, former County Board bully William Beavers observed the filing deadline by reporting to federal prison; he had looted campaign money for gambling and other personal uses. His successor, Stanley Moore, told us in ’14 that if forced to cut county jobs or raise taxes, he’d “raise taxes to keep hard-working county employees on the payroll.” Sure enough, in 2015, Moore voted to raise the sales tax. Get this: He said the hike wouldn’t drive shoppers elsewhere and close stores in this district because “They’re already closed.” Naturally, Moore also voted for the soda tax. Constituents tell us he hides from them, avoiding meetings where he’d be challenged. Democrats, wise up. Fire Moore. Gaylon Alcaraz is finishing a doctorate, teaches at Northeastern Illinois University, runs her own consulting firm — and brims with energy and fresh ideas. She wants county Assessor Joseph Berrios ousted for his discriminatory policies. Also running: Maria M. Barlow and Marcel Bright. But Alcaraz is strongly endorsed.
5th District: Tribune editorial of March 12, 2014: Every four years we’re surprised that south suburban employers and other taxpayers don’t unite to unseat Democratic incumbent Deborah Sims, whose hard work for tax increases has helped make Cook County a less competitive place for businesses and the jobs they bring. Sims is famous in County Building lore for co-sponsoring a rollback of Todd Stroger’s sales tax — and promptly voting to keep the tax intact.
Four years later, Sims has a superb challenger, Audrey Lynn Tanksley, an internal medicine specialist at the University of Chicago. Tanksley calls her agenda HEAL: Health and wellness, Economic development, Assessment of property, and Labor and workforce development. Voters in this heavily Democratic district can endure another four years of Sims or nominate a physician who would improve county health deliberations. Tim Parker, a deputy sheriff, also is running. Tanksley is strongly endorsed.
6th District: Our emphatic choice is Democrat Donna Miller, a health care consultant whom we endorsed in her unsuccessful 2012 run for a state Senate seat. Miller’s responses to our questionnaire are a tutorial in Cook County’s challenges and how to address them. She impressed us with deep awareness of how taxation drives residents elsewhere — and how county government can use technology to adapt service delivery to population shifts. Crestwood residents Patricia Joan Murphy and Lou Presta also are running. Miller is endorsed.
7th District: Democrat Angeles Sandoval, a ComEd business analyst, is bright, articulate and, yes, has that private sector experience. Good. She’d be more independent than Alma Anaya, an aide to Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who’s running for Congress. We think Anaya, like Garcia, would be in lockstep with the Preckwinkle agenda — regardless of its impact on constituents. Sandoval is endorsed.
8th District: Always remember that after pledging to consolidate county offices and streamline services “at all levels” before raising taxes, Democrat Luis Arroyo Jr. in 2015 cast the crucial vote to raise the county sales tax. Too bad he’s unopposed here. Walter Zarnecki and Renne “Tex” Chavez are on the GOP ballot. Neither would face scrutiny by responding to our questions. No endorsement.
10th District: The stellar record of incumbent Bridget Gainer makes this an easy call. Start with her leadership on pension issues, her support for consolidating duplicative offices, her ordinance raising transparency in costly legal settlements. Add her creativity in spearheading the Cook County Land Bank: Predominantly minority developers rehab dilapidated homes for resale; the land bank uses no taxpayer funds and has returned $20 million worth of property to tax rolls. Attorney Mary Ann Kosiak is running, but not hard. Gainer is endorsed.
11th District: Two Republicans, Carl Segvich and Steven S. Graves, wouldn’t respond to us so we could evaluate them. No endorsement. Democrat and board Finance Chairman John Daley is unopposed.
12th District: Incumbent Democrat John Fritchey has bruises from his fight against old-school Dems to combine the clerk and recorder officers. The old-schoolers now want to defeat him. All those candidates who promise to economize? Fritchey delivered for taxpayers. He also drafted and passed a measure that put on this ballot a nonbinding referendum on legalization of recreational marijuana. We hope attorney and first-time candidate Bridget Degnen remains active. But given his work to drag this government out of the 19th century, we endorse Fritchey.
13th District: We’re relieved that Larry Suffredin is willing to serve a fifth term. We salute newcomers Daniel Foster and Bushra Amiwala for running. But they’re up against a leader in restoring this government after the dysfunctional Todd Stroger era. We criticized Suffredin’s unwavering support for the soda tax. But his work on criminal justice, health care and environmental issues is unsurpassed; his work to protect forest preserves from land grabs by other local governments is unequaled. Suffredin is strongly endorsed.
15th District: Incumbent Timothy Schneider, a businessman who chairs the state Republican Party, is unopposed and probably unassailable. Democrat Kevin B. Morrison says the right things (“create more jobs,” “allow more businesses to take root here,” “boost our economy”) and he wants to create an enterprise zone for Hoffman Estates and Streamwood. But he also wants a new lease tax on employers. And while saying he’d cut waste, he opposes privatizing costly county service delivery and doesn’t want to downsize the featherbedded workforce. Morrison leaves us a little confused, but we endorse him over Ravi Raju and his laid-back campaign.
Source: Chicago Tribune