Soon after announcing her bid for mayor of Chicago in the February election, Toni Preckwinkle enjoyed great success in Tuesday’s Cook County Board races.
The county board president and county Democratic leader backed successful challengers to two Republican board commissioners, while a third incumbent narrowly held his seat.
Preckwinkle helped oust the state’s GOP chairman, Tim Schneider, and 20-year board veteran Gregg Goslin.
A third Republican commissioner, Sean Morrison, barely defeated Preckwinkle-endorsed challenger Abdelnasser Rashid.
There will be no more than two Republicans left on the 17-member county board.
In a statement late Tuesday, Preckwinkle noted that Schneider was an ally of President Donald Trump.
“Together, we flipped two Republican commissioner districts to blue,” Preckwinkle was quoted as saying. “Tonight, Democrats sent a clear message to President Trump and Republicans — their policies of fear and bigotry are not welcomed in Cook County.”
Political newcomer Kevin Morrison defeated Schneider in the 15th District, in the northwest suburbs. Schneider had been on the county board for 12 years, and he helped repeal Preckwinkle’s unpopular tax on sweetened beverages last year.
With all of 183 precincts reporting, Morrison had 54 percent of the vote to Schneider’s 46 percent.
“I could have spent $3 million on this race and the outcome would never have been any different,” Schneider said at his election night gathering at a steakhouse in Schaumburg. “This was a Democratic wave here in Illinois.”
He added, “I think we’ve done a disservice to the people of Cook County.”
In the 14th District, also in the northwest suburbs, Goslin fell to Scott Britton, a Chicago lawyer and longtime Glenview official. With all of 205 precincts reported, Britton led 54 percent to Goslin's 46 percent.
Only Sean Morrison managed to avoid succumbing to Preckwinkle’s push for greater Democratic power. With all of 257 precincts reported, Morrison led 51 percent to Rashid's 49 percent -- a margin of only 2,000 votes.
In a statement late Tuesday, Rashid said, “It’s not over yet.”
“Every vote should be counted,” the Democratic challenger said. “We’re going to make sure that they are. We need all mail ballots and provisionals counted to see how close this race really is.”
Sean Morrison is chairman of the county Republican Party. He was appointed in 2015 to fill a vacancy in a district that stretches from near O’Hare International Airport to the southwest suburbs.
Rashid is former deputy chief of staff to Cook County Clerk David Orr, whose office runs suburban elections.
Preckwinkle’s effort to turn the county board almost entirely blue cost about $1 million. And it came as she ran unopposed for a third term — and soon after she announced she would leave the job if elected to succeed retiring Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel next year.
New assessor must take on property tax problems
Also Tuesday, Frederick “Fritz” Kaegi easily defeated Republican Joseph Paglia to become Cook County assessor.
As head of the obscure, yet powerful office, Kaegi will determine how to divvy up the county’s property tax burden. This impacts every homeowner and renter in the county.
Joe Berrios had this job for the past eight years. He lost the March primary to Kaegi after a blockbuster Chicago Tribune/ProPublica Illinois investigation detailed an unfair property tax system that rewarded the rich and hurt the poor.
Now, Kaegi must keep his promises to fix the incredibly complex system he inherits.