Independents Day: The Preckwinkle-Evans faceoff

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Puzzled by the war of words between Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and Chief Judge Tim Evans?

You need only look back to the long struggle between Chicago’s political independents and the Machine.

At least, that’s the opinion of Alan Dobry, former Democratic committeeman of Hyde Park’s Fifth Ward,

Alan Dobry in 1991

As recounted in earlier posts on this blog, Preckwinkle and Evans have been at loggerheads over her effort to infuse efficiency into county government. Preckwinkle says she needs Evans to cooperate in providing information so the county can track the effectiveness of its reform efforts. Evans says he’s doing everything Preckwinkle has requested.

Behind that debate, Dobry sees echoes of the 1980s and ’90s, when Preckwinkle kept challenging Evans for his seat as alderman of the Fourth Ward. Finally, in 1991, she beat him by 109 votes. At that time she was executive director of the Chicago Jobs Council.

“They they were knock-down, drag-out fights,” Dobry recalls. “I think it was done somewhat by proxy. But people called other people names.”

Chief Judge Tim Evans swears in Toni Preckwinkle as County Board president last year. (Brian Jackson~Sun-Times photo)

It was a big loss for Evans. Long seen as allied to the Daley Machine, Evans had moved up to be a top lieutenant to former Mayor Harold Washington, who tapped Evans to head his political and governmental operations. Evans ran Washington’s political office, chaired the Budget Committee and was his City Council floor leader.

To many people, Evans seemed to be Washington’s natural successor, says Dobry, who at age 84 has pretty much stepped down from active politics. But Eugene Sawyer got the votes in the City Council in 1987 to fill out Washington’s term, and Evans — running as the Harold Washington Party candidate — lost to Richard M. Daley in the 1989 mayoral election.

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