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Stroger’s son gets Democrats’ fall nod
Cook County Board remains divided on interim president

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

With a little bit of grumbling, and a lot of posturing, the coronation of Todd Stroger went off without a hitch Tuesday as the Cook County Democratic Party nominated him to take his father’s place on the November ballot in the county board president race.
While the well-orchestrated show was taking place at the Hotel Allegro in downtown Chicago, a block away at the County Building, chaos still reigned with no consensus candidate among county commissioners emerging to fill the presidency for the next four months.
“I think it’s just madness. It’s just totally unpredictable,” said Forrest Claypool, a Chicago Democrat and a contender for the interim presidency. The board will meet today to try to select a president from among their ranks.
Although Todd Stroger easily won the ballot spot with 76.9 percent of the weighted vote, several Democratic committeemen rose to speak on behalf of Congressman Danny K. Davis, who had also sought the nomination.
Moreover, some suburban committeemen, including Joan Brennan of Elk Grove Township, successfully objected to making the vote for Todd Stroger unanimous with a second ballot — a move the party sometimes does as a show of unity once the candidate is chosen.
And, Todd Stroger took several shots for being short on administrative experience but long on family relations — one of the most biting from Davis himself.
“I don’t like the idea that family ties and pedigree will trump [qualifications],” Davis told the committeemen. “I have a strong suspicion that your decision may not be where the people are.”
He added that the way Todd Stroger had been picked had hurt the party — which was as close as anyone came to enunciating whispers among Democrats that a Todd Stroger candidacy might galvanize support for his Republican opponent, Tony Peraica.
Todd’s father, John, beat his Democratic primary opponent, Claypool, by just 52 percent to 48 percent, and some Democrats fear Claypool loyalists might vote for Peraica rather than for the younger Stroger.
Still, Davis himself gave Todd Stroger his full support after the votes were cast.
“I will leave (here) ready to work as hard as Todd Stroger will work to see that he will be the next president of the Cook County Board,” Davis said.
Many brushed aside criticism of Stroger.
“Everyone has a right to pursue public office regardless of their family name,” said Committeeman Lou Lang.
He praised Stroger as someone who brought opposing sides together in the legislature and as someone of character.
“He’ll remember the Cook County suburbs,” said Lang of Skokie.
Stroger himself vowed to make changes in county government.
“We plan to tell the people that we want to make county government as efficient as possible,” he said.
He would not commit to making a pledge on taxes either way.
Meanwhile, as of Tuesday afternoon, no county commissioner claimed to have the nine votes necessary to win the interim presidency.
Peter Silvestri, a Republican from Elmwood Park, had predicted at the last county board meeting July 12 that everyone would enter Wednesday’s meeting knowing who would be the next president.
“My words at the meeting were incorrect,” said Silvestri Tuesday.
He noted with some irony that Republicans, at five united votes, are so far the biggest voting block on the board because Democrats are fractured among multiple candidates.
But, he added, while Democrats are seeking Republicans’ support, no Democrats have pledged to support a Republican candidate. Republican Carl Hansen of Mount Prospect has put himself up as a candidate.


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