WBEZ | Cook County Democratic Party http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county-democratic-party Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Candidate filing period marks milestone for Asian-Americans http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/candidate-filing-period-marks-milestone-asian-americans-109259 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Josina Morita (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>On a recent, frigid morning, <a href="http://friendsofjosina.com/">Josina Morita</a> stood bundled up in a quilted coat at the Ravenswood Metra station. Clutching a coffee in one hand and a clipboard in the other, this has been Morita&rsquo;s routine at least three mornings each week since August.</p><p>&ldquo;Morning, how are you doing today?&rdquo; she says, as she approaches commuters waiting on the platform. Morita&rsquo;s gathering signatures and introducing herself as a candidate for the board of the <a href="http://www.mwrd.org/irj/portal/anonymous/Home">Metropolitan Water Reclamation District</a> (MWRD.) She needs 7300 valid signatures to qualify for the primary ballot.</p><p>Morita often has to explain the function of the MWRD, which manages the reclamation and treatment of stormwater and wastewater for Cook County residents. Many voters have never heard of the obscure agency. Fewer still realize the significance of Morita&rsquo;s bid for the office.</p><p>Morita is the first Asian-American candidate to be slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for elected countywide office, marking another milestone in a tide of Asian-American political ascendancy in Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;You just have to hustle and get to know the kingmakers,&rdquo; said Jae Choi Kim, president of the<a href="http://www.aaa-fund.org/chapters/chicago.php"> Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago</a>, a Democratic Political Action Committee.</p><p>Kim said the slating process has long been a challenge for Asian-American candidates. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very closed loop system, and that is why I think it&rsquo;s so hard for newcomers who are not in organized politics to win in Cook County.&rdquo;</p><p>Kim acknowledges that Asian-Americans make up only 7 percent of the Illinois population. But she warns that political parties ignore Asian-Americans at their own peril, since the racial group is the fastest growing in the state. Kim believes Asian-Americans have sufficient numbers to be the margin of victory in some local elections. She says that&rsquo;s why AAAF has focused on boosting Asian-American voter engagement, and has started to nurture candidates for public office.</p><p>&ldquo;Our experience is when you are not at the table, they&rsquo;re not talking with you, they&rsquo;re talking about you, and they don&rsquo;t necessarily have the facts about you proper,&rdquo; said Kim. &ldquo;And so we want to be at the table to discuss and better represent and properly represent who we are. Because we&rsquo;re a very complex, dynamic community.&rdquo;</p><p>Morita says she is proud of her half-Japanese, half-Chinese heritage, and grateful for the support of the AAAF and the Indo-American Democratic Organization, another group that mobilizes Asian-American political support. But Morita says her campaign is structured to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters.</p><p>&ldquo;I can run only as an Asian-American, and try to get only the Asian-American vote,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;but that is not a strategy to win, and it&rsquo;s also just not a strategy to represent the community the way that it should be represented.&rdquo;</p><p>Morita says she&rsquo;s banking on broad support across racial and ethnic lines. She says her primary assets for the position have nothing to do with race, but rather are her urban planning background and experience as Executive Coordinator of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, a grassroots coalition that takes on issues of social justice.</p><p>Still, Morita says recent wins by Asian-Americans, and her own candidacy, are part of a changing tide in Illinois politics. She points to her friend and early supporter, Ameya Pawar, the first Asian-American alderman on Chicago&rsquo;s City Council. Morita also looks at the election of Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-8th), for whom she volunteered.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s been a lot of work that I&rsquo;ve been a part of with so many other people at grassroots level to engage Asian-American voters for decades,&rdquo; said Morita, &ldquo;and my election, or my candidacy is a piece of that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau Reporter. Follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 10:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/candidate-filing-period-marks-milestone-asian-americans-109259 Illinois Supreme Court election: Does anybody even know it's on the ballot? http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-supreme-court-election-does-anybody-even-know-its-ballot-96299 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-12/AP080908024351.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-13/IL Supreme Court_AP_Seth Perlman.jpg" title="Former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald (right) retired in the 2010, leading to this year's election. (AP/Seth Perlman)" width="512" height="334"></p><p>Voters in Cook County this year will elect an Illinois Supreme Court justice. But with just over a month before the primary election, it's getting little notice.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">EXTRA: </span></strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">WBEZ host Steve Edwards talked with reporter Sam Hudzik about this election. Edwards also interviewed Albert Klumpp, a research analyst at the law firm of McDermott Will &amp; Emery. Klumpp has researched judicial primary elections in Cook County, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on retention elections.</span><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;"> <em>Listen below:</em></span></strong></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332731805-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-march/2012-03-02/edwards-klumpp-hudzik.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Three of the seven spots on the court are reserved for Cook County, with one of the seats on the March 20 ballot. The Democratic Party contest includes Justice <a href="http://www.theisforjustice.com/">Mary Jane Theis</a>, who holds the seat by temporary appointment, along with two state appeals court judges, one of whom has a very familiar name.</p><p>Chances are you're like a lot of voters: If you got stopped on the street by a pushy guy with a microphone, you'd have a hard time naming the justices on the Illinois Supreme Court.</p><p>"I'm a lawyer, I couldn't name all the Supreme Court justices to be honest with you. Yeah, I doubt most people can," Jeremiah Posedel of Chicago said last week, standing in the underground tunnel near Chicago's Millennium Station.</p><p>"No, I don't think I do [know of any justices]," said Laura Kracke of Hyde Park. "Unless, what? Anne [Burke]?"</p><p>"Oh, yeah, [I can name them]: Kennedy, Breyer," answered Eleanor Truex of Homewood, making a commom mistake. "Oh, Illinois? No idea. Sorry."</p><p>So, it's no big surprise that a lot of Cook County voters are unaware they'll be asked to pick a state Supreme Court justice this year. The one guy I talked to who did know that election was coming couldn't name any of the candidates.</p><p>There's no judgment here. Reporters - myself included - normally provide relatively sparse coverage of judicial campaigns. But these elections couldn't be more significant.</p><p>Illinois Supreme Court justices last summer upheld the constitutionality of a major infrastructure plan funded by video gambling and a host of new taxes. Earlier this month, the court said criminal confessions obtained through torture cannot be used at trial. The justices are currently considering Cook County's assault weapons ban and parental notification for abortions.</p><p>"The Supreme Court of the United States gets all the publicity and applause or condemnation," said Thomas Sullivann, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. "But the Supreme Court of Illinois hears far more cases and deals with a far greater variety of subjects - just an incredible number of different areas of law."</p><p><strong>Partisan judges</strong></p><p>Sullivan was the opening speaker at a recent forum for Supreme Court candidates held recently at Northwestern University Law School.</p><p>Candidates for judge are not allowed to publicly say how they'd rule on any issue and for the most part these candidates followed that. So perhaps the most touchy and telling moment of the night came when the candidates talked about whether political parties should be involved in judicial elections.</p><p>A judge for nearly 30 years, Mary Jane Theis was appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald's retirement. That was October of 2010.</p><p>A year later, when Democratic officials gathered to endorse a candidate for that seat, they gave the nod to Theis, backed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Mayor Richard Daley.</p><p>"This is a Democratic primary, and so certainly it would be helpful to engage in a discussion of what the Democratic Party means," Theis said at the Northwestern forum, defending her decision to seek the endorsement, and defending the party. "History has shown that - specifically for minorities - [the] Democratic Party has been a champion of their rights, and for those reasons I have very much respect for them. But I don't come as a partisan person. I am a judge."</p><p>"The Democratic Party in all likelihood, in all reality, has a very tight hold on who gets elected to the bench in Cook County," said appellate court Judge <a href="http://www.joycunninghamforjustice.com/">Joy Cunningham</a>, another candidate for Supreme Court.</p><p>Cunningham has the backing of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. If elected, she would become the first black woman to serve on the state's high court. Cunningham tried to get the party's support, but said she didn't expect it.</p><p>"It is my understanding that sometimes deals are made before the slating process even takes place," Cunningham said. "However, I felt that it was as a part of the process I felt that it was important to present my credentials in an open forum so that everyone within earshot could hear what my credentials are and give the party an opportunity to do the right thing."</p><p><strong>Impartiality or hypocrisy?</strong></p><p>Supreme Court hopeful <a href="http://www.pucinski.org/">Aurelia Pucinski</a> took a different tactic with the Democratic Party.</p><p>Pucinski served as Cook County Circuit Court Clerk for 12 years and as a judge since 2004. Her dad is the late congressman and Chicago alderman Roman Pucinski. Despite those Democratic roots, Pucinski said party endorsements for judicial candidates are a bad thing because judges are supposed to be nonpartisan.</p><p>"I have taken the stand that while we should be elected - because it forces judges to get out of their ivory tower - and talking to real people and answering real questions, which is good, that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans should endorse," Pucinski said at Northwestern.</p><p>That is the exact same message Pucinski told Cook County Democrats - to their face - when she went to the endorsement meeting in October.</p><p>But it's a hypocritical message, argued the chair of the party, county Assessor Joe Berrios. Berrios notes that Pucinski in the past has asked to be slated when she's run for judge.</p><p>"[This year] she knew that she didn't have enough votes in the room to get the slating, so she made the comment that there shouldn't be a slating, and that the Democratic Party, committeemen should stay out of this election," Berrios said in a phone interview last week.</p><p>There are a couple parts of "Aurie" Pucinski's biography that make it clear she was not going to win the party's support.</p><p>Case number 1: In 1998, she ran for Cook County Board President - as a Republican. She lost. Two: She's run against the party's endorsed candidate in judge elections before, including two years ago when she won a seat on the state appellate court.</p><p>"That's one thing that Aurie has done before. She's run against the party, and you know she's beat the party," Berrios said. "But we are working very hard for our endorsed candidate, Mary Jane Theis, and we will continue to do that."</p><p>But Pucinski begins the campaign with one big advantage: name recognition.</p><p>"I recognize her name, yes," Laura Kracke, of Hyde Park, said.</p><p>"Yes. Yes, because that's such an unusual name," said Eleanor Truex, of Homewood.</p><p><strong>Bar associations</strong></p><p>These voters said they'll do research before the election. Part of that could be looking at ratings from bar associations.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.chicagocouncil.org/">Chicago Council of Lawyers</a> last week finalized its ratings, finding Theis to be "highly qualified." Lawyers noted her "outstanding legal ability," scholarly writings and "unquestioned" integrity.</p><p>Cunningham was rated "well qualified" to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court. Council members called her a "solid, hard working jurist" who "asks good questions...and writes well-reasoned opinions."</p><p>The council had less praise for the two other Democrats, which it rated "not qualified." Pucinski was knocked for "play[ing] an advocacy role" from the bench, and lawyer <a href="http://www.tomforjudge.com/">Thomas Flannigan</a> (a self-described "longshot") was found to lack the broad legal experience necessary to serve on the state's highest court.</p><p>Ratings from other lawyer groups, including the Chicago Bar Association, are not yet available.</p><p><strong>TV ads and money</strong></p><p>Expect Theis and Cunningham to mention their ratings in upcoming TV ads. And while Theis' ads may not end up highlighting her Democratic Party support, the campaign says it will highlight another big endorsement: Mayor Emanuel's.</p><p>And she will have plenty of cash to buy ads. Theis' campaign reported having <span class="BaseText" id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_lblEndFundsAvail">$609,339 at the end of December and has raised at least $21,800 since</span> then, according to filings with the Illinois State Election Board. (see Theis' <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?id=23652">filings</a>)</p><p>Cunningham reported <span class="BaseText" id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_lblEndFundsAvail">$139,330 at the end of the year, raising more than $43,500</span> so far in 2012. (see Cunningham's <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?id=23691">filings</a>)</p><p>Pucinski had under $300 (see her <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?id=4689">filings</a>)<span class="BaseText" id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_lblEndFundsAvail">. Flannigan, who has publicly sworn off donations, has no open campaign committee.</span></p><p><strong>The sole GOPer</strong></p><p>Next November, the winner of the Democratic primary will face Judge James Riley, who was rated "not qualified" by the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Riley is running a spirited though probably futile campaign for this Cook County seat, as a Republican.</p></p> Mon, 13 Feb 2012 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-supreme-court-election-does-anybody-even-know-its-ballot-96299 Assessor election suggests white reformers ought not go it alone http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/assessor-election-suggests-white-reformers-ought-not-go-it-alone <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/Claypool_at_Salem.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The results of a fiercely contested Cook County election are exposing a gulf between white liberals and minority voters.<br /><br />Forrest Claypool&rsquo;s anti-machine rhetoric has proven popular over the years with white progressives. But he needed broader support to beat Democrat Joe Berrios in Tuesday&rsquo;s Cook County assessor election.<br /><br />In particular, Claypool had to do better in heavily minority neighborhoods than when he tried to unseat Cook County Board President John Stroger in 2006.<br /><br />He didn&rsquo;t do better.<br /><br />Jamiko Rose, executive director of the Organization of the Northeast, said the results show how far the progressive movement has to go. &ldquo;We need to identify the issues that different ethnic communities care about and build relationships and work on those issues,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Many community organizers say a good-government agenda isn&rsquo;t enough. They say reformers also need to focus on issues like jobs, schools and public safety.</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 22:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/assessor-election-suggests-white-reformers-ought-not-go-it-alone Winners & Losers: Illinois election fallout http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/winners-losers-illinois-election-fallout <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/KIRK6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>By nearly every measure, the GOP&nbsp;had a big night on Tuesday.&nbsp; But what about things closer to home?&nbsp; Who were the big winners and losers in Illinois?</p><p>That's where things get much more interesting. &nbsp;In the Land of Lincoln, Obama, and Blagojevich, outcomes both confirmed and defied national trends.&nbsp; And even though votes are still being counted in two key races - Governor and the 8th U.S.&nbsp;Congressional District - a mixed picture of winners and losers is beginning to emerge.</p><p>Here's how it looks:</p><p><u><strong>The Winners</strong></u></p><p><strong>Cook County Democratic Party:</strong>&nbsp; Lost amidst all the attention paid to Republican successes locally and nationally was the fact that the Cook&nbsp;County Democratic Party &quot;got it done&quot; when it counted last night.&nbsp; Despite the bruised egos that came with the loss of the U.S. Senate seat and a few key House races, the local Machine took care of business at home in key power positions - including Cook County Assessor, the Illinois General Assembly, and if current trends hold, the Governorship.&nbsp; That means they'll continue to control all 3 branches of state government, the redistricting process, and Cook County patronage armies.&nbsp; Any way you figure it, that adds up to a win - especially in an historic Republican year nationally.</p><p><strong>Illinois Republican Party:</strong>&nbsp; This is the only entry to show up in both lists (more on that below), but the case for declaring the Illinois GOP a winner on&nbsp;Tuesday is about context.&nbsp; Just two years ago, an Obama landslide raised questions about the future relevance of the Illinois Republican Party.&nbsp; And that doesn't even take into account the conviction of former Gov. George Ryan, the Jack Ryan scandal, the Alan Keyes debacle, and a decade of infighting and disfunction.&nbsp; Things were so bad for the party that they couldn't even defeat a scandal plagued Rod Blagojevich in 2006.&nbsp; But last night the GOP&nbsp;racked up big wins in races for the U.S. Senate (Kirk), U.S. Congress (Dold, Kinzinger, Hultgren,&nbsp;Schilling, &amp; maybe Walsh), and State Treasurer and State Comptroller.&nbsp; Thanks to newfound party unity and a big push from Tea Party enthusiasts, the IL&nbsp;GOP&nbsp;had it's best night in a decade.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Joe Berrios:</strong>&nbsp; Investigative exposes and a slew of attack ads accused Berrios of improper dealings and clout-heavy preferential treatment during his tenure on the Cook County Board of Review.&nbsp; Even so, those allegations and an independent challenge from fellow Democrat Forrest Claypool weren't enough to take down Berrios, the Chair of the Cook County&nbsp;Democratic Party.&nbsp; In the end, party regulars came out for their guy - and their boss - and put him comfortably in the Cook County Assessor's seat.</p><p><strong>Michael Madigan</strong>: At the beginning of the year, the idea that Michael Madigan would no longer be the Speaker of the Illinois House in 2011 was considered far fetched.&nbsp; But in the closing weeks of the campaign, it became a distinct possibilty.&nbsp; In fact, some predicted growing Republican momentum would be enough to blow Republicans back into control of the General Assembly for the first time since 1996.&nbsp; If so, that would've taken the speaker's gavel out of Madigan's hand and would've left significant redistricting and legislative power in the hands of the GOP.&nbsp; But it was not to be. &nbsp;In the end, the Republicans came close, but the Democrats held on - and so did Madigan, who remains the most powerful individual in Illinois state politics.</p><p><strong>Dick Durbin:</strong>&nbsp; Is Durbin really a winner?&nbsp; Well, the argument against this goes like this:&nbsp; 1) He failed to keep in&nbsp;Democratic hands the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Barack Obama (big symbollic blow), and 2) Had the Dems lost control of the Senate and/or Harry Reid lost his relection bid in Nevada, Durbin could've risen a spot to become the leading Democrat in the senior chamber.&nbsp; So on that basis, you could argue it was a rough night for Durbin.&nbsp; But Durbin also could've been outdone by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a power struggle to become the Dems leader.&nbsp; And had the Dems lost the Senate, Durbin's influence would've been diminished still.&nbsp; So, under the belief that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, Durbin's a winner.&nbsp; With the Dems holding on to the Senate, the party's power and Durbin's own clout remain as strong as ever.&nbsp; In fact, with Congress now in Republican hands, he'll become an even more important power broker on Capitol Hill.</p><p><strong>Governor Pat Quinn:</strong>&nbsp; OK, so this may be premature, especially since State Sen. Bill&nbsp;Brady (R-IL) is still contesting the outcome of the election. &nbsp;But for the sake of argument, let's say that the current results hold and Quinn wins a full four year term as Governor.&nbsp; If true, that would mean Quinn overcame a mountain of obstacles in the process.&nbsp; Consider this:&nbsp; If you would've told someone that an incumbent Democrat would've won re-election this year with dismal approval ratings, high unemployment and the corruption conviction of his Democratic predecessor and former running made, they would've said you're nuts.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Mark Kirk:&nbsp;</strong> Sure, national trends favored Republicans this year. &nbsp;Sure, the Democrats nominated a young candidate with a thin and tarnished resume (Alexi Giannoulias). &nbsp;And sure, Kirk had big time cash and support from outside the state. &nbsp;But Illinoisians have sent exactly one Republican to the U.S. Senate in the last quarter of a century - and the Democrats pulled out all the stops to keep it that way on&nbsp;Tuesday.&nbsp; Kirk overcame his own major missteps and a major push from the Obama White House to secure the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>The Losers</strong></u></p><p><strong>President Barack Obama:</strong>&nbsp; Much already has been said about both the real and symbollic setbacks posed by these midterm results.&nbsp; The signs of what-could-be first emerged in the special election of Massachussetts Senator Scott Brown earlier this year.&nbsp; As many have predicted, the President's job just got a lot harder.&nbsp; Period.&nbsp; The silver lining for him?&nbsp; He now has a tangible foil to position against:&nbsp; The Republican Congress.</p><p><strong>Illinois Republican Party:&nbsp; </strong>So &quot;the winners&quot; case was made above, but what about the case for &quot;the losers&quot; list?&nbsp;&nbsp;Item:&nbsp;It's an historic Republican wave year; 2) Approval ratings for Obama, Quinn, Madigan, Daley, et al are all dangerously low; 3) Tea Party activists are firing up the base; AND 4) A jury just convicted former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich of corruption.&nbsp; With such a &quot;perfect storm&quot; of conditions, the GOP should run the table, right?&nbsp; Well, not so much.&nbsp; Yes, the IL GOP racked up some impressive victories on Tuesday. &nbsp; But assuming current trends hold in the Governor's race, the Dems will continue to control all 3 branches of state government.&nbsp; As KISS' Gene Simmons once said, &quot;Close, but no guitars&quot;.&nbsp; And in this midterm year, that's not victory.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Alexi Giannoulias</strong>:&nbsp; The 34-year-old State Treasurer and friend-of-Obama ran a spirited campaign in the midst of a Republican hurricane - and the final outcome hardly could have been closer.&nbsp; But a loss is a loss, especially one in the President's home state, in his home seat, and with big help from the home team. &nbsp;The big question now:&nbsp; What's next for Alexi?</p><p><strong>Dan Seals</strong>:&nbsp; Especially if you're a supporter, but even if you're not, it's hard not sympathize with Dan Seals today.&nbsp; Six years ago, Seals was billed as a rising young star and was being compared to Barack Obama.&nbsp; He lost two close races for Illinois' 10th Congressional District, but with incumbent Mark Kirk electing to run for the U.S. Senate this year, many people thought Seals' time had finally come. &nbsp;Alas, he lost another close one - this time to Republican Robert Dold.&nbsp; That makes him 0-for-3, just like Republican Jim Oberweis.</p><p><strong>Forrest Claypool</strong> <strong>&amp; Tony Peraica:&nbsp;</strong> Four years ago, these two men - one Democrat and one Republican - came close to defeating the Strogers in&nbsp; two races for Cook County Board President.&nbsp; At the time, Claypool and Peraica were part of a small, but effective block of votes pushing for reform on the County Board.&nbsp; Many expected one or both would be back to run for the Cook County Board Presidency this year.&nbsp; Instead, they made other choices and now, four years later, the two are out of county government - and out of elected office altogether.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Updated 11/3/2010 @ 9:55a</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 18:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/winners-losers-illinois-election-fallout Joe Berrios wins big in Cook County assessor’s race http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/joe-berrios-wins-big-cook-county-assessor%E2%80%99s-race <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/Joe Berrios1CROP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Democrats across the United States are smarting after election defeats Tuesday, but the party&rsquo;s leader in Cook County is basking in victory after a bruising battle.<br /><br />Four candidates faced off to replace the retiring county assessor, Jim Houlihan.<br /><br />Forrest Claypool, an independent, raised the most money in the campaign&rsquo;s closing months and got a lot of good press. But Joe Berrios, the chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, still outpaced Claypool by more than 200,000 votes.<br /><br />Berrios said there was a lesson: &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t count us out. Don&rsquo;t count the Democratic Party out and do not count our organization out of anything.&rdquo;<br /><br />Claypool said the results showed something else. &ldquo;We just got squeezed in the middle between straight-ticket Democratic voting in the city and straight-ticket Republican voting in the suburbs,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Claypool offered a suggestion for anyone else who would take on what he called a corrupt political machine: &ldquo;Fight within the party structure.&rdquo;<br /><br />Republican Sharon Strobek-Eckersall finished third; the Green Party&rsquo;s Robert Grota, last.<br /><br />The assessor sets the value of nearly every property in the county to help determine each owner&rsquo;s taxes.</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 08:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/joe-berrios-wins-big-cook-county-assessor%E2%80%99s-race Toothache interrupts Cook County assessor candidate Forrest Claypool http://www.wbez.org/story/african-american-politics/toothache-interrupts-cook-county-assessor-candidate-forrest-claypool <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-01/ClaypoolCROP.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Candidates across Illinois are trying to make the most of their last day before Tuesday&rsquo;s election. But a leading contender in a tight Cook County race had to step off the campaign trail for a few hours.<br /><br />Assessor candidate Forrest Claypool said his &ldquo;emergency&rdquo; began last night after Halloween trick-or-treating. &ldquo;I made the mistake of stealing my 9-year-old daughter&rsquo;s Tootsie Roll,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It was like a hydraulic lift on my cavity filling, and just pulled it right out.&rdquo;<br /><br />Before he knew it, Claypool was in a Hyde Park dentist&rsquo;s chair. The repair on Tooth No. 18 forced Claypool to cancel a Monday afternoon appearance at Manny&rsquo;s Deli, a frequent stop for politicians before Election Day. He hoped the Novocain would wear off in time to meet rush-hour commuters at the Roosevelt stop of CTA&rsquo;s Red Line.<br /><br />Claypool, a Cook County Board member, is running for assessor as an independent. His main competition is Cook County Democratic Chair Joe Berrios, a member of the Board of Review, the county&rsquo;s tax-appeals panel. Claypool accuses Berrios of arranging tax breaks for friends and political donors and criticizes him for helping put family members into government jobs.<br /><br />Berrios insists he hasn&rsquo;t played favorites at the Board of Review and calls himself an advocate for county homeowners. A spokesman said Berrios planned to spend his last evening of campaigning at a downtown event with Chinatown business leaders.<br /><br />One of the race&rsquo;s key battles is for black votes. On Sunday, both Claypool and Berrios spoke to African American congregations. The two are also running ads on black radio stations.<br /><br />The contest also includes Republican Sharon Strobek-Eckersall, a former Evanston Township assessor, and the Green Party&rsquo;s Robert Grota, a Cook County assessor&rsquo;s office analyst. <br /><br />The office sets the value of nearly every property in the county to help determine each owner&rsquo;s taxes.</p></p> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 21:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/african-american-politics/toothache-interrupts-cook-county-assessor-candidate-forrest-claypool