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How will board replace Stroger?

Sunday, July 02, 2006
Chicago Tribune

QUESTION: How is a temporary replacement for the County Board president selected?

ANSWER: When a County Board president steps down, state law requires that the board select a replacement from among its remaining members.

John Daley, the chairman of the County Board's Finance Committee, is considered by board members the favorite for the interim position. Daley has said that he would not seek the party's nomination, and that he supports John Stroger's son, Chicago Ald. Todd Stroger (8th), as candidate.

Commissioner Bobbie Steele also wants to replace Stroger, but her colleagues say her bid appears to be a long shot. John Stroger said he would stay on as president until July 31. John Daley said he expects they will hold special meetings in early August to choose his replacement.

QUESTION: What happens to John Stroger's elected County Board seat?

ANSWER: Historically, the County Board president also serves--and is separately elected--as one of the board's 17 commissioners. Only board members are allowed to vote on matters before the board; the president's position has no vote, unless he is also elected as a commissioner.

John Stroger's resignation letter indicated that he would also give up his board seat on July 31. Chicago Ald. William Beavers (7th) has expressed interest in running for the district seat. Under this scenario, Todd Stroger would run only for board president. But Beavers and Todd Stroger have said this part of the plan has not been finalized.

QUESTION: How and when will the decision be made on John Stroger's replacement on the November ballot?

ANSWER: Once Stroger's resignation letter is forwarded to Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Thomas Lyons, a meeting would be set for the 50 Chicago ward committeemen and 30 township committeemen to select a replacement for the ballot. Committeemen say that Todd Stroger already has a lot of support, based largely on their respect for John Stroger. They said it appears likely Todd Stroger will be nominated.

However, some committeemen who supported John Stroger's primary race opponent, Forrest Claypool, may seek an alternative candidate. Party leaders largely agree that the nominee should be an African-American because that voting bloc is so important to Democrats, and because that bloc won the primary for John Stroger. Many say it would be seen as a betrayal by party leaders if an African-American were not slated.

QUESTION: Can anyone else get in the November race?

ANSWER: Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica of Riverside is the Republican candidate in the race. An independent candidate cannot run. The deadline for an independent to file petitions to get on the ballot was June 26.

QUESTION: What pressing issues face the board president?

ANSWER: Summer is when the president's office typically begins planning for the next year's budget, which is usually proposed in the fall. Commissioners have said that a visible executive is needed to craft the document and kick-start the process.

Commissioners also have said that executive leadership is needed to deal with the county's current financial problems. Revenues are falling short of expectations in the county's health system and commissioners are concerned about a year-end deficit that could create problems now and next year.

QUESTION: What does the county government do?

ANSWER: Cook County government has five major responsibilities: public hospitals and clinics, the jail, the courts, elections and the property tax system. Stroger called the county a "government of last resort." It's the place where the sick and poor turn for health care and where the criminals are locked up. Still, few county residents pay attention to its existence on a daily basis, making it something of an invisible entity.

Choosing one of their own

By Mickey Ciokajlo
Tribune staff reporter
Published July 2, 2006
Under state law, the members of the Cook County Board must pick one of their own as a replacement for John Stroger, to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends the first week in December.

The last time the board was called upon to replace a president was January 1969, when Richard Ogilvie stepped down after being elected governor. Commissioners at that time picked George Dunne, who had been Finance Committee chairman, which is considered the body's second-most powerful position.

John Daley, Mayor Richard Daley's brother, is the current finance chairman and is considered a favorite to hold the president's seat for the remainder of the term. Daley has said that he would not seek the Democratic Party's nomination for the Nov. 7 election.

Commissioner Bobbie Steele has also expressed strong interest in the position, although commissioners are hoping that she doesn't force a showdown and make them choose sides.

- - -

A look at the county commissioners, by district:

1st: Earlean Collins (D), 68, of Chicago's West Side, is a former state senator who made an unsuccessful bid for state comptroller in 1994. She is considered the board's swing vote in budget fights in recent years. Collins stood with John Daley last month to stress that the board would not forcibly remove Stroger after published reports said commissioners were set to replace him. Elected: 1998.

2nd: Bobbie Steele (D), 68, of Chicago's West Side, is a retired Chicago schoolteacher who was first elected in 1986 as an independent Democrat with the backing of former Mayor Harold Washington. Steele has touted herself as a qualified replacement for Stroger in such a public way that some commissioners say it has hurt her politically.

3rd: Jerry Butler (D), 66, of Chicago's South Side, is a famed soul singer known as "The Iceman." Like Steele, he was elected in 1986 as an independent with Washington's endorsement.

4th: John Stroger's seat is to be vacated July 31. Potentially, it could be filled for the remainder of the term by his son, Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) or another political ally.

5th: Deborah Sims (D), 52, of Chicago's South Side, is a protege of former Chicago Ald. Wilson Frost. A staunch supporter of Stroger, Sims would likely follow his direction when it comes to a replacement. Elected: 1994.

6th: Joan Murphy (D), 69, of Crestwood, is a former county worker and firm Stroger loyalist. Murphy was nominated to seek a second term in the March primary.

7th: Joseph Mario Moreno (D), 53, of Chicago's Near Southwest Side, is the board's president pro tem and a close ally of both Stroger and Daley.

8th: Roberto Maldonado (D), 54, of Chicago's Northwest Side, is a protege of U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago). An ally of Stroger, Maldonado's loyalty does not necessarily extend to Daley and he would likely favor Steele.

9th: Peter Silvestri (R), 49, is also the mayor of west suburban Elmwood Park. A moderate Republican elected to the County Board in 1994, Silvestri has a strong working relationship with Daley.

10th: Mike Quigley (D), 47, of Chicago's North Side, was the first of a new wave of so-called reformers when he was elected to the board in 1998. He aborted a run for board president late last year and instead chaired Commissioner Forrest Claypool's unsuccessful primary campaign against Stroger.

11th: John Daley (D), 59, of Chicago's South Side, was first appointed to the board in 1992 after serving in the state legislature. He became finance committee chairman two years later after Stroger was elected president. John is well-liked by board members and often lunches with the board's Democrats and Republicans after board meetings. He is widely acknowledged to be the board's second-most powerful member.

12th: Forrest Claypool (D), 49, of Chicago's North Side, lost the primary election to Stroger after a hard-fought campaign. A former top aide to Mayor Richard Daley, Claypool has always shown deference to John Daley despite his railings against Stroger and other "machine" politicians. Elected: 2002.

13th: Larry Suffredin (D), 58, of Evanston, joined Claypool in 2002 in a second wave of reform-minded commissioners who have caused trouble for Stroger in recent years. Commissioners consider Suffredin to be aligned with Steele in her bid for the presidency.

14th: Gregg Goslin (R), 52, of Glenview, says he supports Daley as an interim president, saying it is a logical extension of Daley's position as chairman of the finance committee. Elected: 1998.

15th: Carl Hansen (R), 80, of Mt. Prospect, is the board's only lame duck after losing in the primary to Timothy Schneider of Bartlett. After Stroger, Hansen is the board's second-longest-serving member, elected in 1974.

16th: Tony Peraica (R), 49, of Riverside, is the Republican nominee for County Board president in the November election. He says he would not seek the interim post and believes John Daley will get the nod. Elected: 2002.

17th: Elizabeth Gorman (R), of Orland Park, is a Republican rival of Peraica's who considered running for county president this year, but decided against it. She was elected in 2002 with the help of former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th).

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