By Richard Boykin
Our children are literally dying in the streets; families are not getting justice.
My No. 1 priority is to make sure that we have safe streets throughout Cook County.
With less than a week remaining in the election cycle, the state of Cook County couldn’t be worse for President Toni Preckwinkle. High levels of crime and gun violence continue to plague our communities. People do not feel safe to move around in their own neighborhood.
And why would they?
At least 61 people were shot, 10 fatally in holiday weekend violence, police officials said. Many of the shooting victims were wounded on the South and West sides. Meanwhile, Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board of Commissioners, on May 24, voted 13-4 to give themselves a shameful and ill-timed 10 percent salary increase, with a 3 percent annual increase over the next 3 years.
Preckwinkle, head of a crumbling political machine of the past, lost the confidence of Cook County residents’ long ago. In her 2019 mayoral bid against Lori Lightfoot, Preckwinkle garnered just 26 percent of the vote, with her own precinct leaving her out to dry.
Once touted a progressive and a reformer, Preckwinkle remained a steadfast ally of former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, a proud practitioner of patronage politics and nepotism, who presided over a system of assessing property values that multiple studies concluded was regressive and even racist.
Make no mistake, Preckwinkle is the de-facto boss of Cook County. She controls the purse string of Chief Judge Tim Evans, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, and the Democratic Party. Her policy on violent criminal offenses: Shrink the jail population by releasing violent offenders back into the community with little to no bail or electronic monitoring where they can comfortably await trial. In May 2021, during the pandemic, more than 90 Cook County defendants accused of murder were let out on electronic monitoring. As the number of defendants ballooned and the charges against them became more questionable, Sheriff Dart sounded the alarm, yet his cries fell on deaf ears, and boss Preckwinkle turned a blind eye.
“There’s a population on home monitoring that was never meant to be on it, including 92 or 93 who are charged with murder,”
Sheriff Dart told reporters, he added, “I’ve been pleading with judges. These are violent people who are a danger to the community. We can’t keep doing this.” But Chief Judge Evans stood helpless, hands tied behind his back, and took the public flogging for Preckwinkle’s woeful negligence.
Enough is enough! We cannot afford another 12 years under the current administration that has failed to keep us safe, while the County is facing a public safety crisis and a public health crisis, as evidenced by the weekend escalation in violence.
The surge in crime has hurt the economy of Chicago and Cook County. As board president, I will stiffen the penalties for offenders who are convicted of illegal gun possession and prevent their release on electronic monitoring. I will give Chief Judge Tim Evans and Sheriff Tom Dart the resources that they need to succeed. I will also collaborate with the mayor of Chicago to help bring about real change.
My holistic approach to stem crime starts with the people of Cook County, and in the homes of the most vulnerable. As president, I will fund outreach workers to get critical services to those in need, and fund a youth job program under the auspices of the County Forest Preserve.
I’m running for board president because gun violence, carjacking, retail thefts, all of these things combined are terrorizing our communities. Our children are literally dying in the streets; families are not getting justice. My No. 1 priority is to make sure that we have safe streets throughout Cook County.