Endorsement: Meister as Democrat for Cook County circuit clerk

  • From left, Dorothy Brown, Michelle Harris , and Jacob Meister are Democratic candidates for Cook County circuit court clerk  in the 2016 election.

    From left, Dorothy Brown, Michelle Harris , and Jacob Meister are Democratic candidates for Cook County circuit court clerk in the 2016 election.

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted2/25/2016 1:00 AM

We'd like to think the Cook County circuit court system isn't a lost cause. That court files can be counted on to be complete when lawyers and judges need them, and that someday the office will be run efficiently, with the primary focus being on the users -- judges, lawyers and the public -- and not patronage jobs.

On the Democratic side of the ticket, the only hope of that lies with Jacob Meister, a longtime lawyer, and founder of a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT civil rights in Illinois.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Meister is no party insider, which is an important consideration if you think the circuit court clerk's office should be hiring employees based on skill and not patronage.

His ideas for moving the court system to a paperless system and other efficiencies, like tying the court's computers to all the stakeholders in the system -- lawyers, state's attorney, the sheriff's department, department of corrections and more -- will cost money upfront but save money in the long run in material and personnel.

Dorothy Brown, the circuit court clerk, is running a gutsy primary campaign in the wake of losing the Cook County Democratic Party endorsement and a federal investigation that has gotten uncomfortably close. But after 15 years of presiding over an unmodernized office and doing little to remedy that, she needs to turn the keys over to someone else.

That someone is not Chicago Alderman Michelle Harris, the party's choice to replace Brown and who got the party's unanimous endorsement after it dumped Brown in October.

Harris isn't a lawyer, she has never run a large department and, moreover, has not permitted herself to be vetted by the Daily Herald. She did not submit a questionnaire, she skipped the editorial board endorsement session and hasn't responded to reporters who want to interview her for stories on the primary race.

The circuit clerk's office must be run by professionals, not politics. Giving Jacob Meister the Democratic nomination on March 15 would be a good first step.

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