4 seek interim Stroger postNo consensus pick emerges for vote next Wednesday
Thursday, July 13, 2006
by Mickey Ciokajlo
Tribune staff reporter Gary Washburn contributed to this report
Cook County commissioners set a July 19 meeting to pick one of their own for the unfinished term of board President John Stroger, but there was no consensus Wednesday on a likely successor.
Three Democrats and one Republican so far appear to be the likely candidates for the four-month stint.
Commissioner Bobbie Steele (D-Chicago), who has lobbied hard for the position, struck a quieter tone from her earlier rally-style news conferences when asked about her chances for the interim job.
"There's always a possibility," Steele said. "I'm not going to rule out the possibility yet. ... The dynamics change from day to day."
Commissioner John Daley said that along with Steele, Republican Carl Hansen and Democrats Forrest Claypool and Joseph Mario Moreno so far have emerged as candidates. Daley had been considered the favorite but took himself out of the running last week.
Commissioners have said that the chances would appear slim for either Hansen or Moreno to win the post.
Some Republicans have said that Claypool, who lost to Stroger in the March primary, could be an attractive alternative. If the 11 Democrats splinter on a choice, the five-member Republican voting bloc could play a pivotal role.
Claypool said he is not campaigning for the job, but he would seek it if a consensus choice has not emerged by next Wednesday's meeting.
"I ran for this office. I care deeply about the issues involved in it," Claypool said. "It would be nice if there was a broad consensus. And I want to see if there is before I decide to submit my name."
Daley wouldn't say whom he might support.
"I'll support whoever the board puts in. But I'm not going to be a kingmaker," said Daley, brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. "I'm still talking to all four of the individuals."
Stroger, 77, has announced his retirement as president effective July 31, citing his physical condition following a stroke he suffered in March.
He has also withdrawn as a candidate for another term on the November ballot. The Cook County Democratic Central Committee will meet Tuesday to slate a replacement to run as the Democratic nominee.
Commissioners did appear to reach a consensus in denouncing recent comments by Ald. William Beavers (7th), who has said that he is considering replacing Stroger in his commissioner seat. Beavers has said being a County Board member would be easier than being an alderman.
"I truly resent the fact that anyone would say that we sit here and don't do anything," Steele said.
Beavers later said that he meant no disrespect to County Board members with his remarks, but he made no apologies.
"They shouldn't be offended because [the City Council] is the hardest-working elected body in the state of Illinois," he said. "I didn't intend to offend them. I am just telling them like it is."
Also Wednesday, the County Board approved a line of credit of up to $200 million so the government can meet its cash-flow needs.