After a contentious election season, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the 2018-2022 Board of Commissioners were sworn in Monday.
The county boardroom was packed with the family and friends of commissioners, including the brothers of John Daley, D-Chicago: former Mayor Richard M. Daley and mayoral contender Bill Daley.
Pointing to her transition team, Preckwinkle –– who is also running for mayor –– made the case that the county had come a long way from the fiscal and structural woes before she was elected.
“For too long Cook County had been content to put a new coat of paint on the house when it needed a top to bottom rehab,” said Preckwinkle, who was sworn in for her third term.
“The transition team outlined a number of initiatives that met the charge I had given them to make Cook County more efficient, more transparent and more responsive and I’m pleased to say that we’ve accomplished all of them.”
Back in 2010, the initiatives included a moratorium on non-essential capital projects to restructuring county debt. In a policy roadmap unveiled last month, Preckwinkle laid out “objectives and strategies for creating a fair, more equitable Cook County by building vibrant, sustainable and inclusive communities where people want to live, work, learn and play.”
But the next few years could be difficult fiscally for the county. Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, pointed out that there would be a growing shortfall for the next couple of years — projections based on data for the 2019 fiscal year show a deficit of $49 million for 2020.
Commissioner Daley said challenges include continuing to provide quality care and making sure the county “lives within its budget means.”
The 2018-2022 board is comprised of six African-American and two Latino commissioners — Alma Anaya, who replaced incoming U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to represent the 7th District, joins Commissioner Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago.
The six African-American commissioners are: incumbent Stanley Moore, D-Chicago; Brandon Johnson, a democrat from Austin; Donna Miller from the 6th District, which includes Chicago Heights; Bill Lowry, who replaces Jerry “Iceman” Butler to represent the 3rd District; incumbent Deborah Sims, D-Chicago, and Dennis Deer, D-Chicago.
This board has the most African-American commissioners compared to past boards, according to information obtained from Preckwinkle’s office.
There are five women on the 17-member board — Bridget Degnen, of Chicago, replaced commissioner John Fritchey.
That data also shows the 2018 board has the fewest number of Republicans. In 1986 there were seven and the number has steadily declined ever since.
In her role as chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, Preckwinkle targeted three of four Republicans on the board, pumped enough money into the races to help knock out two of the incumbents. Former Commissioners Gregg Goslin and Tim Schneider are replaced by Scott Britton and Kevin Morrison, the board’s youngest and first openly LGBTQ member. The two remaining Republicans are Sean Morrison, R-Palos Park, and Peter Silvestri, R-Elmwood Park.
Commissioners Bridget Gainer, D-Chicago, and Jeffrey Tobolski, D-McCook, round out the board.
The newly inducted members will meet Tuesday to appoint Sims as president pro tempore and appoint former commissioner Ed Moody as the county’s recorder of deeds.