Anita Alvarez: Candidate Profile

Cook County State's Attorney (Democratic)

 
Updated 2/5/2016 10:59 AM
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  • Anita Alvarez, running for Cook County State's Attorney

    Anita Alvarez, running for Cook County State's Attorney

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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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BioQ&A

 

Bio

City: River Forest

Website: http://www.anitaalvarez.com/

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Office sought:

Cook County State's Attorney

Age: 55

Family: Married, four children

Occupation: Cook County State's Attorney

Education: Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, Juris Doctor, January 1986

Loyola University, Chicago, B.S., Social Work, 1982

Maria High School, Chicago

Civic involvement: Chicago Bar Association -- President, 2009-2010 -- Second Vice President, 2007-2009 -- Secretary, 2005-2007 -- Also served on Board of Managers; Judicial Evaluation Committee National Hispanic Prosecutor's Assocation -- Founding Member as well as National President, 2001-2002 Professional Organizations -- Hispanic National Bar Association -- Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois -- National District Attorneys Association -- Women's Bar Assocation of Illinois -- Leadership Greater Chicago Committees / Boards -- Maria High School Board of Directors -- Fenwick High School Board of Trustees

Elected offices held: Cook County State's Attorney, 2008 - Present

Questions & Answers

How concerned are you about police and prosecutors' treatment of black suspects in Cook County? What would you change?

My office handles nearly 40,000 felony cases each year on behalf of thousands of victims of violent crime€"a large majority of them being African-American and Latino. We conduct efficient and thorough prosecutions based only on the facts, the evidence and the law.

Throughout my career, I have been concerned about racial disparity in the criminal justice system which is why I have vastly expanded the deferred prosecution programs in my office, in particular those focusing on non-violent offenses and low level drug crimes. I also strongly support a DOJ review of Chicago Police practices to examine this and other issues.

How would you have handled the case of Laquan McDonald differently, in hindsight?

Police shootings are among the most complex cases for all prosecutors, and police misconduct cases among the most difficult to win a conviction. Nationwide, only 11 officers have been convicted out of thousands of police shootings in the last decade.

I stand by my decision to enlist the FBI and U.S. Attorney as partners in this investigation because our goal was not just to charge, but to build a thorough case that will result in a conviction. This case reminds us of the need for transparency, and I am taking steps to increase the release of information following police shootings.

Is the state's attorney's office biased toward police in cases of possible police misconduct? What evidence supports your opinion? If yes, how would you eliminate that bias?

The SAO has a special unit dedicated to reviewing complaints against police, staffed by skilled prosecutors who work only on these cases. I have never been reluctant to charge a police officer with a crime when the evidence exists to support a charge. Under my leadership, the office has charged more than 75 LEOs with crimes.

My office relies on agencies like IPRA or the FBI to conduct these investigations and bring us these cases. It is important to enlist the support of federal investigators whenever possible to ensure that local authorities are not in the position of investigating themselves.

List any relations (including those related to you by marriage, and nieces/nephews) who are on the public payroll in Illinois, their jobs and who they work for.

My sister-in-law is a Chicago Public School teacher.

Please list any elected office you have ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?

Cook County State's Attorney, 2008 (Won)

Cook County State's Attorney, 2012 (Won)

Never appointed to fill an unexpired term

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

Cook County has a gun violence crisis and I will continue to advocate for tougher gun laws to combat violent crime. The best way to get tough on gun crime is to prioritize resources, which means being smarter about how we handle nonviolent offenses.

When I took office there were eight diversion programs for non-violent offenders. There are now 30, including my recently implemented Drug Deferred Prosecution Program that diverts drug users out of the system and into treatment. I think we need to go further to reform our system, and take a smarter approach to dealing with nonviolent criminals.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

As a Latina coming from a similar background, I am deeply inspired by the personal story and legal career of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

My Mom taught me to treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter the situation. You never know what a person may be going through.

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

I love to travel. If I could do it over I would have traveled more before I settled down and dove headfirst into my career.

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

I enjoyed social studies and history. I think we can learn a great deal from ancient cultures and I have always appreciated learning about them.

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

Don't be afraid to purse goals that seem out of reach. We become stronger and when we believe in ourselves and chase our dreams.