Preckwinkle enjoys sweet win over Fioretti for Cook board president
Incumbent Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle easily turned back a challenge Tuesday from Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti in the Democratic primary -- overcoming an expected backlash against a controversial sweetened-beverage tax she promoted last year.
With 93 percent of the precincts reporting, Preckwinkle led in the unofficial returns with 407,744 votes to Fioretti's 264,723 votes.
The returns show Preckwinkle received 59 percent of the suburban Cook County vote compared to 41 percent for Fioretti. Chicago returns show Preckwinkle with 62 percent of the vote compared to Fioretti's 37 percent.
Preckwinkle has been president since 2010. So far, no Republican candidate has filed to run against her in the Nov. 6 general election, according to Cook County Clerk's David Orr's website.
Endorsed by former President Barack Obama and generally credited with cleaning up county finances, Preckwinkle faced sustained criticism from her penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages in Cook County which angered retailers and consumers alike. The tax was repealed in December.
She listed public health care expansion, a decrease in the pretrial jail population, investment in forest preserve amenities and improved government transparency among her accomplishments.
While she characterized herself as a proven leader forced to make tough decisions, Fioretti painted her as a president whose policies forced higher taxes on county residents.
Fioretti was especially critical of the sweetened beverage tax and of Preckwinkle's decision to reinstitute a 1 percent sales tax which she rolled back after she won the presidency in 2010.
Preckwinkle argued the tax hike was necessary after Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan stymied plans that would have saved money by changing pension rules.
To that end, Fioretti supported switching to a 401(k)-style retirement plan over continuing the current pension system for county employees.