By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown’s received a boost on February 19 at the Parkway Ballroom in Bronzeville, where several Black leaders and retired judges rallied behind her bid for reelection to a fifth term.
The support amid a packed room of about 200 people who cheered for Brown at her “Justice for All Gala,” an event that honored young and senior activists who have fought for change or made an impact in the Black community.
The recipients included William Calloway, who told a reporter about a videotape that shows Chicago police officer Jason Van Dykes shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014.
Brown’s support comes as thousands head to polls for Early Voting at some 51 sites around the county.
During the gala, many of the award recipients turned the spotlight on Brown for her years of service in helping Blacks clear their records and navigate through the nation’s second largest court system. They thanked Brown for looking out for many Blacks whose lives have been impacted with criminal charges on their records.
Brown’s opponent, Alderman Michelle Harris, has little management experience, says she’s best suited for the job.
Despite an endorsement from the Cook County Democrats, a poll by Research America on February 2 showed Harris trailing Brown by 30 percent. About 47 percent of those polled were undecided or in support of someone not on the ballot.
With the race still wide open, both candidates are campaigning for the high number of undecided voters. Despite her support from Cook County Democrats, many believe Harris lack of experience makes her unqualified for the job. She drew loud cheers on several occasions on Saturday, February 20 at a forum at the Alpha Phi Alpha headquarters in her district.
“That office is in dire need of updating and ethical reforms,” Harris said. “I am the government of change and I have the tenacity for change.”
At her gala on Friday night, Brown basked in the spotlight as many expressed their support for a woman who has been reelected four times despite attacks about her ethics and office. After she was introduced at the gala on Friday, Brown entered the room to the 1982 song “Eye of the Tiger” by the group Survivor blasting through the ballroom. Many at the gala believe Brown’s name is being smeared by the political establishment.
“Dorothy is one of us. She’s not one of them,” said William Cousins, a retired appellate court judge who was also honored for his community service during the gala. I don’t know anyone who has been unfairly accused as many times as Dorothy. I’m going to make sure you’re reelected as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.”
Many of her supporters on Friday, criticized the Cook County Democrats for withdrawing their endorsement of Brown after a federal investigation was launched into a sale of a building in North Lawndale by her and her husband. Brown has not been charged with any wrongdoing and her most loyal supporters say Brown will once again prove her critics wrong. At the gala, Brown appeared optimistic and spoke with confidence.
“These are very serious times,” she said. “I appreciate all the support you’ve given me as I seek reelection. We need to protect records for all the people, not just a privileged few.”
The Circuit Court clerk’s office is responsible for maintaining and archiving all court records in Cook County. These files include traffic tickets, trial documents and case depositions.