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Gorman announces intentions to resign from Cook County board

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Daily Southtown
by Mike Nolan

Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman said Wednesday she will step down Monday after almost 13 years in office to take a job in the private sector. An Orland Park Republican, Gorman said she hoped that Palos Township GOP Committeeman Sean Morrison would be selected to replace her. Her successor will be named by a weighted vote of committeemen in the county board district. Her 17th District stretches to Des Plaines in the north and in the southwest suburbs includes part or all of towns including Hickory Hills, Orland Hills, Orland Park, Palos Hills, Palos Park and Tinley Park. 

 Gorman's announcement came the same day the county board approved a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase. She voted "present" Wednesday after having previously fought vigorously to repeal former county board President Todd Stroger's sales tax increase. Gorman, who has three children, said she is taking a job as director of state and local government affairs for a Fortune 100 company. She declined to disclose the company. Gorman said she would remain the GOP committeeman for Orland Township.In her letter to President Toni Preckwinkle, Gorman said it "has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of the 17th District for nearly 13 years on this distinguished body," and that her years of service "have been some of the most rewarding of my life." First elected in 2002, Gorman defeated three-term Commissioner Herb Schumann. Schumann had criticized her connections to former Chicago alderman Ed Vrdolyak, a business associate of Gorman's husband, Gerald. Gorman said frustration over property taxes pushed her to seek public office. In 2004, Gorman was considered a top prospect to run for U.S. Senate as the Republican State Central Committee sought a candidate to replace Jack Ryan, who left the race after a California judge unsealed divorce records showing his ex-wife accused him of forcing her to accompany him to sex clubs. She ultimately decided against running.

In November 2010, just days after winning re-election to the county board, Gorman filed for bankruptcy. Her husband, a former Chrysler and Dodge dealer, filed for bankruptcy in September of that year. Ultimately, in June 2011, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing their cases discharged about $13.5 million in the couple's debts ó meaning the Gormans weren't obligated to repay them.  In the spring 2011 election, Gorman had backed candidates running under the Fiscal Voices for Orland Park banner for seats on the Orland Fire Protection District board as well as for Orland Park village board. Two candidates, Blair Rhode and Chris Evoy, won election to the fire district board, but the slate's village trustee candidates narrowly missed winning election against candidates endorsed by Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. Gorman's backing of the slate appeared at the time to be political payback aimed against McLaughlin, who supported Patrick Maher in his November 2010 effort to unseat Gorman on the county board. Maher at the time was president of the fire district board and son of David Maher, then Orland Park's village clerk. Many observers thought that Gorman might have challenged McLaughlin for mayor in the 2013 election, but the threat never materialized. ""Gorman said that one of her greatest accomplishments while in office was to advance county laws urging the training of police officers in the use of Naloxone, used in the treatment of heroin overdoses. She had organized area-wide seminars that brought together first responders and educators to talk about the need for increased efforts to battle heroin use in the Southland region. Gerald Bennett, mayor of Palos Hills and president of the Southwest Conference of Mayors, said Wednesday that Gorman had "been a good commissioner" and kept municipal officials in her district apprised of county matters affecting them. He said he didn't have any specific thoughts on who he thought should replace Gorman. "We hope that whoever is selected will represent the interests of citizens of the district," Bennett said. He said that while area mayors don't have a direct say in naming Gorman's replacement, "we would hope that they (decision-makers) talk to some of the mayors out this way as part of the process." Cook County Board Member John Daley, son and brother of former Chicago mayors, said he found Gorman "someone who was willing to compromise" and that she had "grown tremendously" during her years on the board. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-3rd, said that Gorman was "a hard worker and a really good advocate for her constituents." "She was always very much trying to help people out," he said.

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