Follow @csteditorialsRepublican Christopher E.K. Pfannkuche entered the race for Cook County state’s attorney with a more extensive resume than Democrat Kim Foxx. He could point to 31 years as a criminal prosecutor.
But then, when meeting with the Sun-Times Editorial Board, Pfannkuche vowed — and this really was weird — that as state’s attorney he immediately would launch a criminal investigation into Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handling of the police-involved shooting of Laquan McDonald and possibly put Emanuel in prison.
And this investigation would based on exactly what evidence? None at all. Pfannkuche’s threat, designed to pander to voters, is as scurrilous as Donald Trump’s threats to chase Hillary Clinton into prison should he be elected president. It’s banana republic stuff, not the American way.
Foxx won a strong victory in the March Democratic primary against two-term incumbent Anita Alvarez because Cook County is in serious need of an elected prosecutor who understands that good judgment and fairness are paramount requirements for the office. Alvarez’s tenure was strewn with controversial cases in which some defendants were unfairly hammered with lengthy sentences while others, including some police officers, appeared to dodge responsibility for egregious actions.
Foxx has made clear that she understands the overarching issue in this election is to restore faith in the office of state’s attorney — not to throw political opponents in jail. At a time when Americans increasingly are questioning the legitimacy of every arrest, every police stop and every criminal trial, Cook County needs a prosecutor who won’t pull punches or play favorites based on the politics. The county needs a prosecutor who respects the police and understands the need for tough police work, but who knows that the kind of apparent police coverup seen in the Laquan McDonald case — or in the David Koschman case — cannot be tolerated.
Although Foxx’s tenure as an assistant state’s attorney spanned only 12 years as a prosecutor and administrator, mostly in the juvenile bureau, her time as chief of staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has given her experience in how to run a large bureaucracy. It has taught her, we would hope, to work with other leaders in the county, an important skill for an officeholder who must cooperate with the sheriff, chief judge, public defender and the Circuit Court clerk.
We endorse Foxx with one caveat: She has yet to demonstrate her independence from Preckwinkle, her political mentor. We’ll be watching to see just how much she’s her own boss. But Foxx has the potential to lead the state’s attorney’s office in a new and more open direction.