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Northwest Suburbs Weigh in on Stroger Defeat, Direction of Cook County

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The primary race for Cook County Board president got a lot of attention all over the county, and particular attention in the northwest suburbs. That’s where some villages had voted to to secede from the county over President Todd Stroger’s sales tax hike. Stroger lost to Chicago Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, who faces Republican Roger Keats in the fall. Some Palatine residents weighed in on the results, and bigger issues with the county.

GORSKI: Hip-hip hooray, and I think the people spoke. That tells you something that he came in fourth.
PETRIELLI: Whoever is going to go in, it will be a better...
GORSKI: A better administration, everything. I think if Mickey Mouse had been elected, he would have been better. (Laughter.)

Wheeling resident Sharon Gorski’s at Bea’s Hair Design in Palatine. She’s there to get a cut and color from owner Beatrice Petrielli. Gorski’s got a wish list for elected officials:

GORSKI: Some honest leadership. No patronage jobs. No nepotism. Just honest, good Cook County government.

She and Petrielli hope Cook County repeals the sales tax hike. Petrielli says it’s hard on business. Many people cross over into Lake County to shop where the sales tax is lower.

PETRIELLI: We have to raise the prices to cover the taxes, and I really can’t afford to raise the prices, the economy the way it is.

A few stores down at Grammy D’s restaurant, Millie Croft is having
breakfast and sharing the newspapers with her husband. Her wish list for Cook County’s future is a lot like her neighbors'…

CROFT: I would like a general cleaning up so that so much money isn’t being wasted. We shouldn’t have to cut back on social programs and have some people making ridiculously large salaries.
STEVENS: I’m actually gonna vote Republican. I think the Democrats in Chicago, they don’t know when to stop. You know, the days of grafting and corruption are over, and they need to realize that.

Palatine resident Tom Stevens sits nearby. He says it’s time to clean up politics. But it’s not just corruption he’s concerned about.

STEVENS: The services that are provided for Cook County go to the city of Chicago and not to the northwest suburbs or to the southwest suburbs. So I don’t think it’s fair how it’s distributed.

Stevens says he supports Palatine breaking away from Cook County and forming its own county with other suburbs or joining Lake County.

Residents here and in two other towns voted in favor of secession last year, though it will take more steps to become law.

SCHWANTZ: I know there’s still frustration. I don’t believe the frustration’s going to go away.

Mayor Jim Schwantz says seceding would be difficult. He says a study to figure out the cost would run $100,000 to $150,000 alone. There’s no funding for that.

The issue would have to get a majority vote not just from residents but across the county, and Schwantz acknowledges that’s tough. Legislation to make the process easier stalled in the General Assembly.

SCHWANTZ: There’s a lot of things that have to go before we even get to point where it becomes a really viable option for us. But I know people, they still talk about it, so it’s not like the momentum has stopped. It’s still something we hear about just about every day.

Schwantz is hoping new county leadership could change things. He’s pushing for a repeal of the sales tax increase. The mayor also hopes new leaders are open to talking about better ways to share and distribute county resources.

SCHWANTZ: Hopefully the new regime that comes into the county, whoever that is, has got that same desire to work together, and if that’s the case, then I think everybody will work a little bit better in harmony, and maybe some of that talk of seceding will quell a little bit.

But Schwantz says if that doesn’t happen, some on the city council are likely to step up and try to get a secession bill passed in Springfield.

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