Endorsement: Meister for Democrats to replace Dorothy Browns as Cook County court clerk

  • Jacob Meister, Chicago, candidate Cook  County circuit court clerk, 2020 Democratic primary.

    Jacob Meister, Chicago, candidate Cook County circuit court clerk, 2020 Democratic primary.

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 2/28/2020 9:23 AM

Four years ago, we and both Chicago newspapers endorsed Jacob Meister in the Democratic primary for Cook County circuit court clerk, an office that had operated in scandal for years under longtime incumbent Dorothy Brown.

"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," we said at the time.


Four years later, her office under the cloud of a federal investigation, Brown is not seeking reelection. And the two Chicago papers have abandoned Meister for other candidates.

We're sticking with Meister.

Don't get us wrong. We like all four of the contestants in the March 17 Democratic primary, and they all make strong cases on behalf of their candidacies -- Meister of Chicago, founder and CEO of The Civil Rights Agenda; former Cook County Commissioner Richard R. Boykin of Oak Park, who lost his seat after fighting Board President Toni Preckwinkle's soft drink tax; Michael Cabonargi of Wilmette, chair of the Cook County Board of Review and author of its first ethics policy; and Iris Y. Martinez of Chicago, the first Latina to be elected to the Illinois state senate who has gone toe-to-toe with House Speaker Michael Madigan.

But we especially like Meister's passion and his tenacity. As an attorney who has practiced in the court system, he has a personal understanding of the impact the clerk's office has on day-to-day justice and a strong agenda to reform the office and make it more responsive to the public's needs, This is a candidate who combines idealism with strategic thinking to get things gone. His independence reminds us a lot of the reform style of former Cook County Clerk David Orr, and that's not a bad model to emulate.

The field of qualified candidates makes it a tough call, but that doesn't lessen the enthusiasm of our endorsement for Jacob Meister.

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