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Cook Co. Board
Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Tue Nov 2, 2010

Preckwinkle Declares Victory In Cook County Board President Race

Toni Preckwinkle pledged a new era of reform and transparency in Cook County government before a cheering crowd at a hotel in downtown Chicago just moments ago. The unofficial counts from the vast majority of precincts across Chicago and Cook County has Preckwinkle in command of the race.

"I want to say this to the residents of Cook County," Preckwinkle said to cheers in the packed ballroom. "For far too long, you've seen your taxes go up with less and less to show for it. Many have questioned whether our county is still capable of creating the change that we need. But I believe it's a new day in Cook County."

Preckwinkle's likely victory tonight places her atop a government facing a thorny set of challenges in the short term. She's pledged to gradually roll back the remainder of a sales tax increase supported by outgoing board president Todd Stroger and must fill a budget shortfall that could range up to $500 million. The county health care system, meanwhile, is the "provider of last resort" for many of Cook's poorest residents and uninsured workers. And following Stroger's tenure, voters are looking for a new round of transparency and ethics in a government long known for its politically-driven hiring.

She'll no doubt use the lessons learned waging battles on City Council, her zest for public policy, and her knowledge of nitty-gritty issues that come up when running a government. It's a tall order. And for the new Preckwinkle administration, meeting the challenge begins tomorrow.

Check back for more updates, including video, soon.

PI Original
by Progress Illinois
Tue Nov 2, 2010

Live Blog: Illinois' Down-Ballot Developments

On Election Day 2010, we're gathering the latest news from some of Illinois' most interesting down-ballot contests.

Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Tue Nov 2, 2010

Turning Out The Vote On Chicago's South Side

A little before 1:30 p.m., Karen Johnson and Laterra Barnett (at left and right in the photo, respectively) emerged from the polling place at Williams Elementary, a school at 27th and Dearborn in Chicago, having just cast their ballots. Barnett, who lives in the Dearborn Homes, the public housing development adjacent to Williams, voted a straight Democratic ticket. She noted GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady had discussed lowering the state's minimum wage. "He wants to stop that $8.25," she said. Barnett had been encouraging neighbors to vote and worrying about turnout today. "This is just as major as the presidential," Barnett said. By early afternoon today, the Williams Elementary polling place had seen just 23 registered voters show up to cast a ballot, according to an election judge watching the process unfold inside of the school's tidy gymnasium. "Rush hour hasn't come yet," the judge said.

Things were moving a bit faster over at the polling place at Mollison Elementary at 44th and King Drive -- 116 people had cast ballots by approximately 2 p.m., an election judge said, and a few people were still finishing their ballots. With President Barack Obama's home literally just a couple of miles away in Hyde Park, it's no surprise that voters at Mollison were thinking of Obama this afternoon. Felicia Daniels, for example, said she voted for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias because, "For one, my president loves him."

A little further south, the 4th Ward Democratic headquarters was busy with volunteers picking up door knocking lists for specific precincts and phone banking in a narrow, second floor office. The 4th Ward is Cook County Board President candidate Toni Preckwinkle's home base -- she's represented the district since 1991 -- and a joint effort between her ward organization, her county-wide campaign, and SEIU (whose state council sponsors this website) is meant to leave no registered voter's door unknocked. Preckwinkle's GOTV director David Hatch said "strong turnout areas" on the city's South and West Sides and in the South Suburbs would also be targeted. Here's Hatch talking about today's push:

The estimated results of turnout today will start rolling in shortly. As we noted in the post below, the state elections board expects 53 percent of registered voters in Chicago and Cook County to participate in this year's elections. With the 5 p.m., post-work hour drawing nearer, whether or not a rush of voters shows up at polling stations in Chicago and suburban Cook is what many progressives will be looking for.

PI Original
by Micah Maidenberg
Thu Sep 9, 2010

Cook County's Grim Budget Situation (VIDEO)

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward) is expected to win her campaign for president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners this fall. If she does, she'll inherit a government with a budget gap of at least $300 million ... and possibly much much more.