One features an incumbent who insists, “I love my job and I ain’t going anywhere.”
The other involves a likely victor who won’t even agree to be interviewed.
The campaigns for Cook County treasurer and clerk are getting minimal attention this election cycle.
Still, when it’s all over, Cook County will have a new clerk for the first time in more than a quarter century. The only candidate in the race at the moment is Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough.
And unless challenger Peter Gariepy has his way, Maria Pappas could be on track for another term as treasurer.
“I will probably get carried out of there on an ambulance when I’m 90,” Pappas, 68, said.
The Democrats are all seeking their parties’ formal nominations March 20.
Yarbrough, 67, refused through a spokesman to be interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times.
On her website, she promises her first act as clerk would be to audit the voting systems. Among her stated priorities are cybersecurity and the “smart integration” of the clerk and recorder offices, which voters have decided to merge.
However, she has been dogged by claims of patronage and $12,000 spent in 2017 for a weekend resort getaway for her top staffers in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Jan Kowalski McDonald, 54, also tried to run for clerk. But records show the Cook County Officers Electoral Board removed her from the ballot following a challenge to her nominating petitions. A clerk spokesman said Tuesday her name will be on the ballot but she is not currently eligible to win the office. She has asked U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp to intervene.
The clerk’s job opened up after incumbent David Orr announced he would not seek another term.
No Republican is seeking the office, according to the clerk’s office, nor is any Republican seeking the office of treasurer, although party leaders can appoint nominees before the November election.
That means Gariepy, 35, is the only person currently standing between Pappas and another term. Gariepy says the treasurer’s office should act as a check on the assessor’s office. He also wants to put more detail on property tax bills about how money is being spent — which means drilling down into the budgets of other governmental agencies to determine where the dollars are going.
“If any bill is going to rise, you need to provide people with additional detail,” Gariepy said.
Gariepy has also succeeded in making noise about a policy in the treasurer’s office that requires women — not men — to wear smocks. Gariepy has promised to end that policy. Pappas told the Sun-Times “we’re going to sit down and I’m going to let them decide what they want to do.” Still, she insists her office will have a uniform.
“It’s a bank,” Pappas said. “It’s not a free for all.”
Pappas said 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 said, “we are ready for that.”
But she insisted — repeatedly — that no one is going to push her out of office, telling the Sun-Times that “I love my job and I ain’t going anywhere.”
“Just the thought of anybody thinking that I’m going to leave because I’m old, fat and ugly — ain’t happening,” Pappas said.