Iris Martinez sworn in as first Latina Cook County Circuit Court clerk

The history-making former state senator pledged to bring a “new beginning” to the office through greater transparency and accessibility, and told her fellow Latinas to “dream big.”

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Iris Martinez, the first Latina to be elected Cook County Circuit Court clerk, is sworn into office Tuesday morning by Appellate Court Judge Jesse Reyes at the Daley Center.

Iris Martinez, the first Latina to be elected Cook County Circuit Court clerk, is sworn into office Tuesday morning by Appellate Court Judge Jesse Reyes at the Daley Center.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Iris Martinez, the first Latina to be elected Cook County Circuit Court clerk, was sworn into office Tuesday with a promise of a “new beginning.”

Martinez pledged to create “the best office of the clerk of the circuit court in the United States” and said she would maximize residents’ tax dollars, create new efficiencies and provide better accessibility.

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“We will work to create a just and fair court system, an accurate and accessible court system, for every resident of Cook County,” Martinez said after bring sworn in by Appellate Court Judge Jesse Reyes.

Martinez beat her Republican challenger on Nov. 3 with more than 71% of the vote to replace longtime clerk Dorothy Brown, who held the position for two decades and announced last year she would not seek a sixth term amid a federal investigation into her office.

Brown’s tenure earned the clerk’s office a reputation for inefficiency, even after spending $36 million on a new online case management infrastructure that aimed to bring the nation’s second large court system into the 21st Century.

Iris Martinez, the first Latina to be elected Cook County Circuit Court clerk, speaks to supporters and the media after she is sworn into office Tuesday morning at the Daley Center.

Iris Martinez, the first Latina to be elected Cook County Circuit Court clerk, speaks to supporters and the media after she is sworn into office Tuesday morning at the Daley Center.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Martinez, who until Monday was a Democratic state senator representing the city’s Northwest Side, campaigned on being an independent politician who would modernize and bring transparency to the clerk’s office.

Martinez has said she plans to conduct an audit of the office and will bring in Freedom of Information Act officers to handle public records requests.

With 17 years in office, Martinez was the longest serving Hispanic woman elected to the state senate, and she placed herself among other trailblazing women Tuesday after taking the oath of office, saying she wanted to dedicate the moment to all girls and women, but particularly to other Latinas.

“Don’t you ever let anyone stop you,” Martinez told them. “Don’t you ever stop. Always dream, dream big. Dream the impossible, because you too can make history.”

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