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Cook County board meeting

The Cook County Board of Commissioners hold a board meeting of the Cook County Forrest Preserve at the County Building, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. With Brandon Johnson being elected the next Chicago mayor, his seat on the board is up for grabs.

Ashlee Rezin

The jockeying will begin for Brandon Johnson’s Cook County Board seat

With Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson set to become Chicago’s next mayor, the jockeying will begin to pick his replacement on the county board.

That decision falls to a group of elected Democratic committee people in Johnson’s district, which encompasses parts of the West Side and west suburbs, including Oak Park.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, would likely lead the proceedings as committee person for Oak Park Township, which makes up the largest part of Johnson’s district in terms of votes in the last November general election, said Jacob Kaplan, executive director of the Cook County Democratic Party.

As for whether there are any preferred candidates to fill the seat, the county’s Democratic Party isn’t saying.

“I have not heard any names yet,” Kaplan said.

A campaign spokesman for Johnson said there were no recommendations from Johnson, to his knowledge.

A spokesman for Harmon said: “There will be plenty of time for politics after everyone gets a moment to relax from the election that’s not even 24 hours old yet. Right now, everyone is focused on governing and the transition.”

Johnson’s replacement would become one of 17 commissioners on a majority-Democratic board, overseeing a nearly $9 billion annual budget. Cook County is one of the biggest counties in the U.S., with a vast circuit court system, jail, public health system and large Medicaid health insurance plan called CountyCare for low-income and disabled residents. The majority of the county’s budget goes to public safety and health care.

The appointed commissioner can’t serve longer than 28 months, according to a Cook County ordinance. Johnson won reelection to the board in November, which means there will be a special election during the next general election in 2024 to serve the remainder of his four-year term.

The committee replacement process kicks into high gear once Johnson resigns, Kaplan said. Johnson is slated to be sworn in as mayor on May 15, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Kristen Schorsch covers public health and Cook County government for WBEZ. Follow her @kschorsch.

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