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Toni Preckwinkle Makes Case For County Board President

By Kevin Robinson in News on May 8, 2009 4:20PM

Paul Vallas isn't the only person (maybe) running for Cook County Board President. Incumbent Todd Stroger has made it clear that he intends to run for re-election, and Forrest Claypool, who was poised to take the seat before John Stroger was felled by a serious stroke, is also rumored to be considering a run. Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle has also expressed interest in the job. (She even has a Facebook page!) "He's (Stroger) a nice man," Preckwinkle told Russ Stewart at the Chicago Daily Observer. "But it's not the job for him. He's damaged and crippled the reputation of (county) government. It's time to professionalize it."

Preckwinkle has already taken a few public swipes at Stroger, questioning his motivation for proposing a rollback of the county sales tax, after arguing that it was desperately needed. "It's pretty unusual that you make a case that you desperately need something, and then within months of it going into effect you decide you didn't need it after all," she told Medill. "I hope it reflects bad projections rather than simply the political reality that people are really hostile toward the substantial boost in sales taxes."

Whether Preckwinkle can successfully take on Stroger in the primaries, however, is an open question. A recent poll of county residents, taken before news of Stroger's hiring of convicted felon Tony Cole broke, puts Claypool at 28 percent, Stroger at 23 percent and Preckwinkle at 18 percent. The poll was conducted by Progress Illinois, and sponsored by SEIU, which represents many of the same county workers that Stroger claimed Claypool would leave unemployed if elected. The poll shows Preckwinkle and Stroger splitting the black vote, lagging behind Claypool among whites. Latinos remain the largest group of undecideds. Preckwinkle has vowed to build a "coalition of progressives, Latinos and women," and will stress "reform in health care, criminal justice and forest preserves." The primary is early next year.