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Pappas clears her victory path in treasurer’s race down to a T

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas watches election returns with Billy Goat Tavern's Sam Sianis, left, and his son, judicial candidate Tom Sianis, at the West Side watering hole in March. Provided Photo.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas promised during her primary campaign that she “ain’t going anywhere.”

It didn’t take her long Tuesday to keep that promise, which she had printed on a T-shirt she wore to the Billy Goat Tavern on the West Side.

“Cost me 15 bucks to have it made,” Pappas said.

Pappas had a commanding lead late Tuesday in her race against Democratic primary challenger Peter Gariepy. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Pappas led with 82.3 percent of the vote to Gariepy’s 17.7 percent.

She also has a clear path to victory in November, at least for now.

The same holds true for Democratic clerk candidate Karen Yarbrough and incumbent Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who ran unopposed.

However, Republican Party leaders can still appoint nominees before the general election.

Gariepy insisted during his campaign against Pappas that he would give property owners more information on their tax bills about how their money is used. He said the treasurer’s office should be a check on the assessor. And he made noise about a policy in the treasurer’s office requiring women — not men — to wear smocks.

But Pappas insisted no one was going to push her out of office.

“I love my job and I ain’t going anywhere,” she said.

Pappas told the Chicago Sun-Times she has turned the office around technologically since she first became treasurer in 1998. More than 100 languages are available on her website. During the push to prepay property taxes at the end of 2017, she said her office collected $758 million from 126,000 people.

She said more people than ever want to be able to pay taxes electronically, and she added, “we are ready for that.”

Yarbrough declined to be interviewed by the Sun-Times ahead of the election. She is on track to be the first new Cook County clerk in more than a quarter century.

The job opened up after incumbent David Orr announced he would not seek another term.