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Peraica: Todd Stroger incapable of filling his father’s seat

Thursday, June 22, 2006
Chicago Defender
by Mema Ayi

A day after the Cook County Commissioners failed to act on a plan to succeed board President John Stroger if he chooses to retire, Stroger’s Republican challenger on the November ballot said the president’s son is incapable of leading the county.
Stroger (D-4th) suffered a serious stroke one week before the March 21 primary. Stroger’s family has said they will announce the president’s plans regarding his seat and campaign next month.
Tony Peraica (R-16th) told the Defender Wednesday he believes Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) is being used as a political pawn and does not have enough experience manage Cook County or its $3 billion budget.
“I think he’s a fine young man, but he’s not up to his father’s job. He’s been on the public payroll since post-college. And now he’s on the City Council. But we’re talking about real life here,” Peraica said.
Todd Stroger did not return repeated calls from the Defender.
“Todd Stroger is being used by the political brain trust there of (Ald. William) Beavers (7th) and the Shaw brothers. I think they’re using the family,” Peraica said. “It’s very cynical to use an ill man and his family at this time. It’s deplorable, quite frankly.”
At Tuesday’s county board meeting, commissioners rejected Peraica’s plan to hold competency hearings to determine whether Stroger will return to his seat. Two other resolutions regarding filling the president’s seat were sent to committee.
The resolutions hit the county board floor a day after the Cook County State’s Attorney said the board of commissioners has the authority to remove Stroger by declaring his position vacant, so long as he is given an opportunity to object.
Peraica said his resolution was exactly that the law requires.
“For political reasons, (commissioners) chose to ignore the law. They are pandering to a certain political base and they agreed to sit on their collective hands,” Peraica said. “But because I feel I am obligated under the law and I take the oath of office seriously, I can’t ignore it.”

But Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-10th), who dropped out of the race for county board president last fall, said the board will be criticized no matter how they go about it.
“Either way, people are going to disagree. The president was very close to a lot of the commissioners when he was here,” Quigley said. “There is no good way to handle this unless he gets better or the family tells us he’s going to retire.”
If Stroger retires or is unable to serve as the Democratic candidate, most commissioners and committeemen are of the belief that his replacement should be an African American.
“The reason Stroger won (the primary) was because the African American community supported him loyally,” Quigley said. “We should be colorblind, but we live in a racially-charged city.
In the event Stroger does not return to the county board, a very narrow group will choose the candidate to replace him on the November ballot.
The field will be narrower still if commissioners have to choose a replacement for the balance of Stroger’s term.
Quigley said he wants to see any candidate – temporary or permanent – campaign for the job.
“I’m hoping for a mini campaign,” Quigley said. “Let us see their credentials and let (the candidate) go to the public, then let the public pressure their commissioners.”
Regardless of Stroger’s plans, the county will have to come up with a succession plan, Quigley said.
“There should be a permanent and a temporary plan. Because there are fundamentally important decision that have to be made by someone the public elected,” Quigley said. “Perhaps we’ll solve it for next time.”

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