Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is running for mayor of Chicago, but that isn’t stopping her from mapping out a course for piloting county government.
The Hyde Park Democrat plans to release the cornerstone of her next term on Wednesday — a policy roadmap to strengthen the communities within the county.
Preckwinkle’s map charts a policy course that addresses health, economic development, criminal justice, sustainability, public infrastructure and “good government,” or making the county’s government more accountable and transparent. Many of those initiatives have been part of Preckwinkle’s policies over the course of her two terms in office.
Preckwinkle said the plan is “uncompromising.”
“The policy roadmap outlines objectives and strategies for creating a fair, more equitable Cook County by building vibrant, sustainable and inclusive communities where people want to live, work, learn and play,” Preckwinkle said.
The roadmap is the first, in-depth policy driven strategic plan for departments and agencies Preckwinkle controls since her 2011 transition plan.
She was re-elected to another term last week, but Preckwinkle also kicked off her mayoral bid in September.
The roadmap for county government lays out six policy priorities, which encompass 29 objectives and 131 strategies for continuing to push the county forward. Since it’s a policy guideline, a Preckwinkle spokeswoman said it was “premature” to talk about a price tag for implementation of any projects. That may come later.
The plan was developed by Preckwinkle’s staff over the past year and a half, relying in part on 1,579 community surveys submitted by residents, seven community conversations and 38 focus team meetings between the county’s external partners and employees.
The policy roadmap’s strategies to address the problems the county still faces range from improving access to affordable food options, to reducing hunger in marginalized communities, to implementing racial equity assessments and increasing funding for affordable housing and community development in order to foster economic growth.
To curb the violence in the county, there are strategies that include using federal, state and local grant money for violence prevention, expanding the county’s investment in community-based organizations and supporting the creation of a criminal justice coordinating council that would handle criminal justice reform.
Though the plan lays out a strategy forward for county government for the next five years, Preckwinkle, may not be around very long to see it implemented. If elected to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Preckwinkle would vacate her board president position by May, when the next mayor will be sworn in.
Preckwinkle is expected to unveil the plan to the public Wednesday.
“We’ve gotta address problems that government has historically had a hand in — institutional racism, segregation and inequity — and equity is one of the foundational values anchoring our policy roadmap,” Preckwinkle said. “This is a plan that believes in the best of Cook County and the best for Cook County, and success and opportunity should not be looked at as some finite resource that must be distributed sparingly. It’s time to correct historic inequities and make sure our region is working for all of our residents.