Cook County state's attorney candidates say targeting violent crime is top priority

  • Democrat incumbent Kim Foxx and Republican challenger Patrick O'Brien square off in the race for Cook County state's attorney.

    Democrat incumbent Kim Foxx and Republican challenger Patrick O'Brien square off in the race for Cook County state's attorney.

Posted10/22/2020 5:30 AM

Both Cook County state's attorney candidates say prosecuting violent crime will be their main priority if elected on Nov. 3.

During a joint appearance before the Daily Herald Editorial Board, incumbent Kim Foxx, a Democrat, cited the establishment of a gun crimes strategy unit to help get firearms off the streets as an accomplishment. She also said she has increased felony conviction rates for gun violence, homicide, sex crimes, aggravated battery, violence against police officers, robbery and other violent offenses.


If reelected, Foxx says, she will continue to combat systemic racism within the criminal justice system that has "historically and disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income individuals."

Republican challenger Patrick O'Brien said he would form a new rackets unit "to attack the hold that gangs have on the community." He proposed the unit be composed of assistant state's attorneys experienced in the prosecution of gang, drug and gun crimes "because all of those issues are tied up in one particular problem."

O'Brien also proposed a program to ensure the safety of crime witnesses, help relocate them and get them job training and counseling if necessary so they are able to testify.

Foxx, who is seeking a second term, described her efforts to restore legitimacy to the office, stating that when she took over four years ago "we had a long history in Cook County of a criminal justice system that had lost its credibility." She pointed to the conviction integrity unit, which she said has vacated more than 100 wrongful convictions over the last four years. She also referenced her efforts to decriminalize the use of marijuana and vacate convictions related to its possession.

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O'Brien claimed Foxx has lost voters' confidence and the confidence of law enforcement by "failing to prosecute whole categories of crimes" and behaving more like a social worker than a prosecutor.

He also criticized her for what he described as inexperience and lack of judgment.

Foxx criticized O'Brien for "name-calling and fearmongering" as well as "divisive rhetoric" that she says he adopted from the Donald Trump "law and order playbook."

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