Top prosecutor races begin to take shape in Cook, Lake counties

The race to replace Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx commenced Monday, the first day of filing for chief prosecutor hopefuls and other candidates seeking to run in the March 19, 2024, primary election.

The embattled Foxx announced in April that she would not seek a third term as the leader of the nation's second-largest prosecutors' office.

Foxx was criticized over criminal justice reform initiatives, including her support for the elimination of cash bail as part of the SAFE-T Act; her decision not to prosecute low-level offenses, including retail thefts under $1,000; and her handling of the case involving actor Jussie Smollet, who claimed he was attacked in 2019 by two men uttering racial and homophobic slurs. Police determined Smollett staged the attack and he was convicted of five counts of disorderly conduct in December 2021.

Among the candidates vying to replace Foxx is Democrat Clayton Harris III, who filed his petitions at 9 a.m. Monday, according to the Cook County Clerk's Office.

A prosecutor under former Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine, The Chicago resident served on the city's intergovernmental affairs team and as counsel for the Chicago Department of Transportation. He also served the Illinois Department of Transportation's chief of staff and chief of staff to the governor's office. Most recently, he served as executive director of the Illinois International Port District.

Retired Appellate Court Justice Eileen O'Neill Burke of Chicago also intends to run in next year's Democratic primary, but will file her petitions on Dec. 4, according to a campaign spokeswoman. Elected as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in 2008, Burke served eight years before being elected to the First District Appellate Court.

Bob Fioretti, who unsuccessfully challenged Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in 2022, has announced he will run for state's attorney as a Republican.

Fioretti ran as a Democrat for Cook County State's Attorney in 2020. He also launched an unsuccessful bid for Chicago mayor in 2019. A partner in the law firm Roth Fioretti LLC, he served two terms as a Chicago alderman and served in the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's administration.

Democratic incumbent Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Iris Y. Martinez filed Monday to run for a second term. Democrat Mariyana T. Spyropoulos will challenge her in the March primary.

Lake County

So far the 2024 general primary election in Lake County looks to be quiet.

Three countywide offices are up for election next year: circuit clerk; coroner; and state's attorney. Seven of the 19 county board seats also will be at stake.

All three countywide offices are held by Democrats, as are five of the seven county board seats.

Though he has no primary opponent so far, incumbent State's Attorney Eric Rinehart, a Democrat from Highwood seeking a second term, faces a potential general election challenge from Republican Mary Cole, an attorney from Gurnee who filed Monday.

Incumbent Coroner Jennifer Banek, a Democrat from Green Oaks, could face a November challenge from Republican Mark A. Symonds, as a result of Monday's filings.

County board filings Monday include:

• District 2 (Wauconda and portions of Hawthorn Woods, Mundelein, Round Lake, and Round Lake Park): Hilary Winlarz filed as a Democrat. No Republican filed.

• District 5 (Fox Lake, Lake Villa, portions of Antioch, Grant and Lake Villa Townships, and most of Ingleside): Incumbent Republican J. Kevin Hunter. No Democrat filed.

• District 8 (Portions of Beach Park and Waukegan): Incumbent Democrat Diane Hewitt. No Republican filed.

• District 9 (Portions of Waukegan and North Chicago): Incumbent Democrat Mary Ross Cunningham. No Republican filed.

• District 12 (Bannockburn, Deerfield, and portions of Highland Park and Lake Forest): Republican Andrew Dalkin. No Democrat filed.

• District 13 (Lake Bluff and portions of Gurnee, North Chicago and Waukegan): Republican Ben Grum. No Democrat filed.

• District 18 (Portions of Buffalo Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, Lake Zurich, Long Grove and Vernon Hills): Incumbent Democrat Sara Frederick Knizhnik. No Republican filed.

Bob Fioretti
Eric Rinehart
Mary Cole
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