Hyde Park alderman wins Cook County Board President primary

Preckwinkle won nearly 50 percent of the vote out of a field of four, with twice as many votes as her closest competitor.

By Hannah Fine

Fourth-Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (A.B. ’69, M.A.T. ’77) won the Democratic nomination for Cook County Board President Tuesday in a landslide.

Preckwinkle won nearly 50 percent of the vote out of a field of four, with twice as many votes as her closest competitor, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terrence O’Brien. Preckwinkle also defeated incumbent Todd Stroger, who was criticized for his controversial sales-tax increase and claims of patronage hiring.

“It’s a great night; we’re really pleased,” Preckwinkle said in an interview after the results party, which ended unexpectedly early because of Preckwinkle’s decisive win.

Preckwinkle will face Republican Roger Keats November 2. She stands to be the first woman elected to the position.

Preckwinkle said she saw her victory coming, however, after polls indicated she was pulling away as early as January 22. “We’ve known the polling numbers were good for a while,” she said.

Sixty-three year-old Kevin Corrigan, a developer, described Preckwinkle as “independent” and a “splendid lady.” He has known her for about six years through construction work he has done on the South Side. H found her to be fair, which he said is unusual in Chicago.

“She doesn’t ask for any favors,” he said, adding that she had earned the respect of every developer he knows.

Corrigan said he hoped Preckwinkle would help reform Cook County, which is notorious for its corruption.

“I work for Cook County, and I have seen patronage at its worst, and its effects on the taxpayers of Cook County. It’s a difficult task to bring it to an end, but she leads from the top and knowing her style, she’ll hopefully reform Cook County and bring it to an end. It’s long, long overdue,” he said.

Preckwinkle said she was looking forward to the general election for Cook County Board President, a position responsible for the public health and safety policy of the over five million residents of Cook County. “This is an overwhelmingly Democratic county, but we’re going to work really hard from now until November,” she said.

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias defeated David Hoffman (J.D. ’95) Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator, and 10th-District congressman Mark Kirk won the Republican nomination.

Incumbent Pat Quinn won the Democratic nomination for governor after rival Dan Hynes conceded Thursday; the Republican race is still too close to call.

Overall Illinois voter turnout for the primary was below 25 percent, close to a record low, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago turnout was about 26 percent. The Tribune attributed the low turnout in part to disillusioned voters unwilling to declare themselves members of either party, and the primary’s unprecedented move from mid-March to February, when the weather is worse.

­—Additional reporting by Asher Klein