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Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims to step down after 28 years, vows to stay involved: ‘I’m not going away totally’

“This isn’t an easy district to run. It’s city, it’s suburbs, and it requires someone who’s willing to understand the makeup of both,” said Sims, who is not yet backing a successor. “I’m hoping a Black female emerges out of everybody putting their name in.”

Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims, pictured in 2018. Sims said Friday she’ll step down in 2022.
Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims, pictured in 2018. Sims said Friday she’ll step down in 2022.
Sun-Times file

Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims will step down after her seventh term ends next year, the longtime South Side leader announced Friday.

Sims said she’d been contemplating retirement for two years, but called it “the ideal time for me to begin the next phase of my career.”

“I’m gonna have fun with my grandkids. I’m gonna have fun with my cousins,” Sims said, declining to elaborate on her future plans. “I’m not going away totally. I hope to stick my fingers in some stuff that’s going on.”

By the time she steps down in December of 2022, Sims will have been in office for 28 years in the 5th District which spans parts of Chicago’s Far South Side and some south suburbs.

Sims said her biggest accomplishments were landing new public health clinics in Blue Island and Robbins, and overseeing the development of Cook County’s domestic violence court.

She said it’s crucial that another Black woman replaces her on a board composed mostly of men. Fellow Democrat Donna Miller of the neighboring 6th District and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are the only other Black women on the board.

“If you look at the makeup of the board, that should be a seat for a Black female. I make no bones about it,” Sims said, one of 17 commissioners.

Sims also said she wouldn’t want the district’s next leader to hold another position. “Even though it’s considered a part-time job, it’s a full-time arrangement in this district,” she said.

Sims is not yet backing a replacement, but said she has a few names in mind — none of whom she’d disclose.

“This isn’t an easy district to run. It’s city, it’s suburbs, and it requires someone who’s willing to understand the makeup of both. … I’m hoping a Black female emerges out of everybody putting their name in,” she said.

So far, no names have been put out there officially for the position, which will be on the Democratic primary ballot in June 2022.