Endorsement: Preckwinkle for Cook County Board president
If you're a Cook County Democrat, do you want your next County Board president to be a three-term incumbent under whose leadership the county has turned around its political apparatus, built a stable budget and made steady progress toward overcoming a dangerous pension crisis? Or, a former county board member whose sole political experience is a four-year stint on the County Board that he was unable to transform into a second term?
No Republican filed for a primary ballot position for Cook County Board president and even in the unlikely event that the party slates a general election candidate after the primary, it is overwhelmingly likely that whoever wins the Democratic primary will win the post.
That person should be Toni Preckwinkle.
Preckwinkle's record is not entirely unblemished. As her opponent points out, she pushed hard for an ill-advised and short-lived sugar drinks tax in 2017. And to some extent, the county's budget success owes as much or more to the impact of the Affordable Care Act as to spending controls imposed by Preckwinkle. But there really is no serious question that since she was elected in 2010, Preckwinkle has brought a sense of discipline to county budgeting that was largely foreign before her arrival, and she maintains a team of top advisers who are smart, dedicated and fact- and detail-oriented.
Her challenger, Richard Boykin, is an attorney with a functional knowledge of county operations and some creative ideas for managing the president's office. But the bulk of his campaign seems tilted toward criminal justice issues more relevant to the state's attorney's office than the county board president. As a mentor to State's Attorney Kim Foxx who supports the general direction Foxx is moving toward, Preckwinkle can't escape some criticism for policies that, so far at least, have left many in Cook County feeling less safe.
But it's still the state's attorney, not the County Board president, who is managing these policies, so it seems Boykin's real quarrel ought to be with Foxx.
Nor do we have confidence Boykin would manage the monolithic Cook County government with the degree of sophistication and insight such a massive operation requires.
We do have that faith in Preckwinkle. She has shown her mettle in harder times even than these. She is endorsed.