The Crusader Newspaper Group

Second place position humbling for Preckwinkle

By Giavonni Nickson

Giavonni Nickson

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle may be the “Boss,” but her winning streak in elections was snapped on Tuesday after her opponent Lori Lightfoot came out on top in the race for Chicago mayor. Preckwinkle’s second place finish, leaves her in an unfamiliar and perhaps humble position for an elected official who has dominated Cook County politics in recent years.

Preckwinkle will get a second chance at Lightfoot when the two square off in a runoff on April 2. The two overcame a crowded field of 14 candidates, but only one of them will walk away with the city’s most prominent job.

Toni Preckwinkle is a proven progressive political fighter with decades of experience and a track record of results. Now, as the political underdog, Preckwinkle will have to leverage her experience as she contends to become the first African American woman to lead the City of Chicago.

Preckwinkle’s political career and campaign have been shaped to reflect great hope for Chicago. On election night, supporters cheered as Preckwinkle approached the podium.

“It’s been a long night and a long hard fought campaign. Our fight is far from over. There is a lot more work to do,” said Preckwinkle.

The historical race in the nation’s third largest city will not be a sprint, but perhaps a marathon battle of vision, values, plans, and progress.

Preckwinkle has already proven her political stamina. She became an alderman of the 4th ward decades ago after running three times. Preckwinkle served for 19 years as Alderman of the 4th Ward and was the first African American woman elected as Cook County Board President in 2010.

As Cook County Board President, Preckwinkle oversees one of the nation’s largest health and hospital systems, the largest Forest Preserve system in the country, and one of the largest criminal justice systems.

Through her work as County Board President, Preckwinkle successfully expanded access to healthcare for 350,000 people, brought increased fairness to the criminal justice system, championed a regional economic development strategy, and expanded employment opportunities for the young people of Cook county.

“My entire career has prepared me for this moment. While my opponent was taking multiple appointments in both the Daley and Emanuel administrations, I challenged the power elites who were trying to hold this city back. I worked for and alongside my constituents to turn principles into policies and policies into reality,” said Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle’s progressive political dominance has not been without challenge; she has had to fight under pressure.

Nearly seven weeks before the election she played defense when federal authorities charged Chicago’s longest-serving Alderman Edward Burke of corruption in the shakedown of a restaurant magnate to produce a $10,000 contribution to Preckwinkle’s campaign. Preckwinkle’s campaign filed documents to support returning a portion of the $10,000 in adherence to the state law on donation caps and produced documentation to substantiate the claim that the criminal complaint was an error.

Just days before the general election Preckwinkle severed ties with her top political adviser over an “unconscionable” Facebook post in response to Lori Lightfoot’s explanation of an event during her years at the U.S. Attorney’s office.

In the face of controversy that threatened to derail her campaign Preckwinkle, a pragmatic politician, had to fight her way to election day standing on the strength of decades of political dominance.

“So, as challenging as this race has been I’ve been grateful to see it measured in part by the progressive values rooted in social justice that continued to guide me today,” said Preckwinkle during Tuesday night’s speech. “We are not afraid of big challenges or hard work. I know what it takes to tackle them. I know how gratifying it is when our efforts bend the arc of history a little closer to justice day by day.”

Her record, experience, commitment, and vision speak for themselves.

Even in her early days as an alderman on Chicago’s South Side, Preckwinkle challenged party establishment with progressive force.

Preckwinkle recalls, “I remember when progressive wasn’t positive. It was at best a euphemism for unelectable. Those of us who proudly claimed it had to fight to transform the political landscape to make it clear that the people’s values are progressive values.”

Toni Preckwinkle pushed for affordable housing and better wages. During her speech, Preckwinkle reminded voters of the results yielded by her political leadership.

“When I say I will fight for working families you know I will because I’ve done it. I’ve built affordable housing, expanded access to healthcare, invested in workforce development, and raised the minimum wage. You know my commitment to social justice. I worked  with police to make communities safer, stood with community leaders to demand accountability, and worked with stakeholders to make our system more just.”

In 2015 Toni Preckwinkle took steps to unseat incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. She campaigned tirelessly across Cook County for Kim Foxx to help lead to Foxx’s historic victory as the first African-American elected to the position.

Toni Preckwinkle has developed and advocated for legislation that has substantially changed the juvenile justice system, including raising the age limit for the juvenile justice system, restoring judicial discretion in the automatic transfer of juveniles into the adult system, limiting probation for juveniles and expanding the automatic expungement of juvenile records. This has resulted in a 45% reduction in the juvenile detainee population.

Toni Preckwinkle wants to give a voice back to the people of Chicago. She envisions a Mayor’s office that understands values and reflects the diversity of residents in the communities it serves.

Tuesday night Preckwinkle detailed her vision of effective Mayoral leadership.

“There are two key aspects to this job. You must be the ambassador for our city and the voice of real working families that live in all of our communities. The other aspect of this job is equally as important. The responsibility of running the city. It’s not enough to stand at a podium and talk about what you want to see happen; you have to come to this job with the capacity and the capabilities to make your vision a reality.”

Throughout her career and campaign, Preckwinkle has had to fight. As Alderman, she fought to get illegal guns off the streets and build a more accountable police force. She fought to make sure working-class families live in a city that works for them.

According to Preckwinkle, Chicago needs, “A mayor who will fight  for the city you deserve to call home.” She described herself as the type of Mayor that would not be afraid to fight.

Preckwinkle asked supporters to help her lead Chicago to maximize its highest potential as a world-class city.

“It’s easy to call ourselves a world-class city. Those words can be used on a website, billboard, or the side of a bus. But, Chicago won’t actually be a world-class city until everyone who lives here has the same opportunity to build safe, prosperous, and productive lives for themselves and their children. I will work hard as your mayor, but I need your help.”

A crowded room of Preckwinkle supporters loudly chanted “Toni for Chicago, Toni for Chicago,” on election night as a unanimous declaration of readiness to fight with Preckwinkle in the battle to become the next Mayor of Chicago.

Recent News

Scroll to Top