Cook County Board President Preckwinkle: Candidate Profile

Cook County Board President (Democrat)

  • Cook County Board President Preckwinkle, running for Cook County Board President

    Cook County Board President Preckwinkle, running for Cook County Board President

Updated 10/9/2014 11:26 AM

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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City: Chicago


Office sought:

Cook County Board President

Age: 67

Family: Two children, three grandchildren

Occupation: Cook County Board President

Education: Bachelors and a Masters degree from The University of Chicago.

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Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.

Elected offices held: Chicago Alderman - 1991 - 2010, Cook County Board President 2010 - present.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?

I’m proud of the work we have accomplished in the first term. We have passed four budgets and reformed how we engage each other and the public in this process. We have demanded more accountability from our operations and our employees. We developed a robust policy agenda " focusing on critical public safety reform, working to strengthen our health care system and increasing the capacity and capability of our economic development efforts. I remain fully committed to the residents and the responsibilities of Cook County.

If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?

By rolling back the Stroger sales tax increase I have saved taxpayers $1.1 billion. With the help of the Affordable Care Act, we are transforming our health care system. We established our Medicaid expansion program " CountyCare. Now, 95,000 people are receiving care, many for the first time. And we are now receiving federal reimbursement, rather than utilizing County taxpayer resources. We have improved our Economic Development capacity, locally and regionally. Recently, we led efforts to form the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium and are now eligible for a pool of $1.3 billion in future federal funding.

Describe your position regarding efforts the county has taken to control spending. How have these measures affected the suburbs, and, in particular, do you support proposals President Preckwinkle has made to eliminate unincorporated areas so they would not be under county control?

Over the past four years, we have solved for over $1.2 billion in deficits by making strategic structural changes. We implemented the first County-wide performance management initiative to hold all agencies, including ourselves, accountable by requiring the preparation of a quarterly report to establish measurable goals and detail their plans to meet these goals. In turn, we passed a FY2014 budget without ANY new taxes, new fees or new fines. In the FY2013 budget a $5 million fund was created to improve infrastructure in unincorporated Cook County.


How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important.

I established a formalized preliminary budget process, including a preliminary forecast and public hearing. I wanted to ensure that before submitting our budget recommendations to the Board, we had an opportunity to hear directly from the public, whether in person or online. As part of our performance management efforts, we post all reports available online. We implemented several transparency measures into County Board proceedings, introducing live streaming capabilities for all Board meetings, and ensuring timely archival of proceedings. Currently, we are focused on improving the design and function of the Cook County and Secretary to the Board’s websites.

What, if anything, should be done to improve automation and customer service in Cook County offices? What steps should be taken to make that happen?

Automation efforts within the Department of Revenue have greatly improved tobacco tax enforcement by streamlining revenue flow surrounding cigarette citations, eliminating numerous manual processes, reducing redundant paperwork and increasing time management. We can now access real-time investigations data, automatically send citations to an in-house Administrative Hearing Court and track repeat offenders along with the type of offense they committed previously. In 2013, we exceeded cigarette revenue target by $9.3 million. In 2015, we are developing a new system to consolidate, automate, and re-engineer other local home rule taxes to allow taxpayers to register, file and pay their taxes more conveniently.

What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?

One of my top priorities is to continue our efforts to reduce the reliance on pre-trial detention in the jail. Only 10% of the people in our jail are serving a sentence. Most are awaiting trial because they can’t afford to pay their bail. Furthermore, 70% of those awaiting trial are currently charged with non-violent offenses. This is not only bad for the individuals in our jail and the communities they come from; it’s bad fiscal policy. We are spending too much of our scarce resources on those accused of non-violent offenses; rather than those charged with violent crimes.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

When I first started teaching, I was very impressed with Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. I remember talking with my class about her during the Nixon impeachment.

What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

As the oldest of four, I learned that I'm responsible for them.

If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?

I'm happy with the choices I've made in my life.

What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?

History! That's why I became a history teacher.

If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be persistent. Don't give up.