Endorsement: Preckwinkle for Cook County Board president

This endorsement is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board.

As a Republican challenger for the Cook County Board presidency, Chicago attorney Robert Fioretti seems to be mounting an even feistier challenge to incumbent Toni Preckwinkle than when he faced off against her as a Democrat in the party primary four and a half years ago.

And he has a couple of new issues to run on - notably this year's late delivery of property tax bills and the incumbent's support of criminal justice reforms at the state and county level that he believes are making communities less safe. Otherwise, his concerns are familiar - what he sees as a lack of leadership, complaints about taxes and questions of financial management.

Even so, we find it difficult to take his candidacy seriously. It's not just the former Chicago alderman's seemingly opportunistic jump to the Republican Party after the GOP offered no candidate for board president in the primary. He justifies the change as a necessary response to a Democratic Party he feels has swung too far to the left - a valid enough explanation - but hasn't been particularly visible on county issues since his primary defeat in 2018.

Meanwhile, we still see the matchup much as we did originally. Despite some missteps, Preckwinkle has produced a remarkable story of success since winning the president's job in 2010. She has created a new sense of discipline throughout all levels of county government, nearly wiped out the huge funding deficit the county faced when she was first elected and put together a team of leaders whose talents, focus and dedication have created a path to prosperity for county government. We have concerns about the strength of her embrace of some criminal justice reforms and other strongly progressive positions that give us pause, and, on purely practical grounds, she is open to Fioretti's criticism regarding the late tax bills. But, on the latter item, it should be noted that the bills hadn't been on time for years before she took office. If the complex installation of new computer updates cited as the cause of this year's problems prove to be more than just a one-year blip, she and other financial officials will have a lot more explaining to do.

Meanwhile, Preckwinkle has county government moving more efficiently than many people would have thought possible before she took the helm. Fioretti's campaign offers an engaging challenge, and his aldermanic experience gives him a solid enough foundation in politics and government. But we still don't have confidence he has the passion and the leadership profile to build on the achievements Preckwinkle already has made. She gets our endorsement.

Robert Fioretti
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