By Crusader editorial board
Power and Politics. They both describe the Black vote. In Chicago and America, the Black electorate has gradually increased in value and made headlines as people of color dream bigger and fight harder to push an agenda that has been largely unfulfilled in the political establishment.
Now, another moment to be heard has come and the Black vote has once again become a potential game-changer in heated races involving candidates running for offices on the national, state and local level. Traditionally, opinion polls have excluded the surveys from Black voters, but times have changed and this year’s primary says much about the Black vote as it does about the candidates who are campaigning hard to win it. While the March 20 is days away, the Chicago Crusader endorsements are here.
With major development projects in South Side neighborhoods, Black vote remains a critical component in not only deciding the leadership of Illinois, but the lives and future of thousands of people of color across the state.
The class of 2018 are ready to crusade and defend issues that impact Blacks in Illinois. Some are incumbents while others are ambitious political rookies who seeking to bring fresh leadership in state and county offices. For next week’s Democratic primary, the Crusader endorses the following candidates.
Oran F. Whiting
Vacancy of the Hon. Eileen Mary Brewer
Oran Fresno Whiting was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1987. He was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court. A native of Chicago’s South and West Sides, Whiting received his law degree at Georgetown University after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. Whiting served as a commissioner at the Illinois Court of Claims from 1997-2006. Additionally, he was a hearing officer with the Illinois Secretary of State from 2005 to 2006. He has practiced law at a number of private firms. Mr. Whiting was a partner at Gonzales, Saggio and Harlan LLC, where he focused on general litigation and regulatory/government affairs.
Lori Ann Roper
Vacancy of the Hon. Evelyn B. Clay
Lori Ann Roper was admitted to practice in 1994. She is a career Assistant Cook County Public Defender. She is assigned to 26th and California where she is an Attorney Supervisor. She has held various positions as an Assistant Public Defender. Ms. Roper has substantial litigation experience in a variety of complex criminal law matters. She advises other Assistant Public Defenders on litigation strategies, and is considered to be an excellent lawyer. Roper has been a Public Defender for 23 years, my whole legal career. Roper said as a judge, she will try to focus on services and programs that can help defendants become productive members of society.
Preston Jones Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas E. Flanagan
Preston Jones, Jr. was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1994. He was appointed a Circuit Judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in September 2017. Prior to taking the bench, he was an Assistant Public Defender at Cook County Public Defender’s Office, where from 2004 to 2017 he was a member of the Homicide Task Force. Before that, he served as an Assistant Public Defender in the Felony Trial Division (1998-2004) and in Juvenile Justice/Child Protection. Judge Jones is considered to have good legal ability and is praised for his knowledge of the criminal law and for his trial skills. He is reported to have a professional demeanor and was a zealous advocate.
Liticia Payne -1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Orville E. Hambright, Jr.
Liticia Payne was admitted to practice in 1997. She was appointed to the Circuit Court by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2016. Payne has substantial litigation experience. Payne serves in the First Municipal District Court, presiding over felony preliminary hearings, misdemeanor, and traffic cases. She has tried over 130 motions and trials and has volunteered and served on managing boards of various community and professional organizations. Payne has served on the late Judy Baar Topinka’s, Illinois State Comptroller, African American Advisory Council providing insight and suggestions on programming.
Fredrick Bates -2nd Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Bertina E. Lampkin
Frederick Bates was admitted to practice in 1983. Judge Bates was appointed to the Circuit Court by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2015. He was a sole practitioner between 2000 and 2013 and served as an Administrative Law Judge between 2000 and 2015. He was also a Partner at Wildman, Harrold between 1997 and 1999, President of Albert, Bates Whitehead & McGaugh between 1992 and 1997, was a partner with Bell, Boyd and Lloyd between 1988 and 1992. He has substantial litigation experience in a variety of matters. He is praised for both his litigation skills and for his skills as an Administrative Law Judge.
Gwendolyn Dale Anderson -5th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Patricia Banks
Gwendolyn Dale “Gwen” Anderson was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1977. Anderson is one of a handful of female attorneys to take on some of the toughest cases both in the state and across the country. Currently in private practice she has served as assistant public defender for Cook County – Appellate and Felony Trial Division; Federal Defender for the Northern Dis- trict of Illinois – 1982-2000; Pro Bono Attorney with the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services for over 15 years; Practiced law in both the Federal and Circuit Courts of Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York and Ohio; Legal instructor for “Intensive Trial Seminar” at Harvard and University of Chicago Law Schools.
Marian Emily Perkins
Vacancy of the Hon. Rickey Jones
Marian Emily Perkins was admitted to practice in 1987. She was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court. Before taking the bench, she was a sole practitioner doing criminal law and domestic violence cases. She reports having been a trial advisor at the University of Chicago Mandel Clinic Intensive Trial Techniques Course. As an attorney, Perkins had been lead counsel in more complex jury and bench trials, including a recent three day trial, and bench trials in juvenile and felony trial courtrooms. She has substantial recent experience in more complex litigation matters.
Vacancy of the Hon. Edward Washington, II
An attorney since 1991, Robert F. Harris was appointed to the Circuit Court by the Illinois Supreme Court. Before taking the bench, he served as the Cook County Public Guardian, where he has held every legal and administrative position in that office. The Chief Deputy Public Guardian, Robert Harris supervises the Juvenile Division which represents 18,000 children as their lawyers and Guardians ad Litem in abuse and neglect proceedings. Mr. Harris oversees a staff of 120 lawyers, 18 paralegals, 30 child advocates and 24 support staff, accounting for two thirds of the total Public Guardian staff of 300. Mr. Harris supervises both union and non-union employees.
Robin D. Shoffner – 8th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Candace J. Fabri
Robin Denise Shoffner was admitted to practice in 1990 and was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2014 and served until 2016. She has been re-appointed to the bench by the Illinois Sup-reme Court. She had been an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago Department of Law where she represented the City of Chicago and police officers in civil litigation defense. She served as lead trial counsel. After clerking for the Hon. Glenn T. Johnson, she was an Associate with Carney and Brothers from 1992 to 1995. She then worked as an Assistant Corporation Counsel from 1995 to 1998.
Gwyn E. Ward-Brown – 10th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Eileen O’Neill Burke
Gwyn E. Ward-Brown was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 1989 and to the Illinois Bar in 1991. Ward-Brown started in the Public Defender’s office as a clerk assigned to the post-conviction unit. She is now an Assistant Public Defender in the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. For 26 plus years, Ward Brown practiced criminal and civil law in Cook County as an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office, assigned to the Legal Resources Division. She has experience in a myriad of issues: expedited appeals from the Civil Division of Juvenile Court, felony appeals and post-convictions. She is reported to be a mentor in her office of other lawyers.
William H. Laws
Vacancy of the Hon. Marjorie C. Laws
William Hanson Laws was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1980. Since that time, he has been a Solo Practitioner at William H. Laws, Ltd., where he focuses on criminal defense. He has represented clients in State and Federal courts, in cases ranging from misdemeanors to first degree murder and drug conspiracy cases. He is a member of the Cook County Bar Association and has provided pro bono services through its volunteer legal clinic.
Toya T. Harvey
Vacancy of the Hon. James L. Rhodes
Toya T. Harvey was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1995. She was appointed to the bench as a Circuit Judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in March 2017. From 1996 to 2017, she worked for the Office of the Cook County Public Defender, where since 2013 she was a Grade IV Assistant Public Defender on the Suburban Homicide Task Force. She has provided pro bono services at various expungement summits, including the 2017 County-wide Expungement Summit sponsored by the Clerk of the Court.
Vacancy of the Hon. John D. Turner, Jr.
Admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1997, Travis Richardson was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2017. He had been in private practice for most of his career, focusing on litigation matters in both state and federal courts. His litigation experience spans both civil matters and criminal defense work. He is active in community efforts, and served as a Hearing Examiner for the Chicago Board of Elections between 2010 and 2012.
Debra Ann Seaton
Vacancy of the Hon. Camille E. Willis
Debra A. Seaton was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1986. She was appointed to the bench as a Circuit Judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in May 2017. Between 2010 and the time of her appointment to the bench, she served as a supervisor at the Legal Resources Division of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, where she also worked from 1988 to 2000. She has also worked as a solo practitioner, focusing on defending death penalty cases (2000-2010.)
Vacancy of the Hon. Valerie Turner
Devlin Schoop is a Partner with Laner Muchin. From 1997 to 1999, he clerked for Judge Blanche Manning. From 1999 to 2003 he was an Associate with Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon. Schoop has authored IILCE continuing legal education materials on age and employment discrimination issues. He is exceptionally active in pro bono and civic matters and received the U.S. District Court’s Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service.
Anthony C. Swanagan -15th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Frank G. Zelezinski
Anthony Swanagan was admitted to practice in 1987, and was appointed to the Circuit Court by the Illinois Supreme Court in April 2017. Before taking the bench, Swanagan had served as a career clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Andrea R. Wood of the U.S. District Court. He has also clerked for Justice William White in the Illinois Appellate Court, and for Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of the U.S. federal court. Earlier in his career, Swanagan was a litigator in civil matters with Jones, Ware & Grenard and served as corporate counsel for Galileo International, Inc. Swanagan is considered to have good legal ability. As a lawyer, he had litigation experience earlier in his career, and is widely praised for his writing skills and analytic thinking as a law clerk in both the state and federal courts.
BOBBY L. RUSH
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 7TH DISTRICT
Political veteran Bobby L. Rush seeks his 13th term in Congress. An outspoken public servant, Rush is needed to maintain a strong voice in a Republican-majority Congress and President Donald Trump Administration. First elected in 1993, Rush has championed the issues for low-income neighborhoods, health care for the uninsured and jobs on the South Side.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 2ND DISTRICT
During her second term as U.S. Representative for the 2nd District, Kelly stayed connected to her roots, engaging residents with several community projects. A strong advocate for Black girls, Kelly has held several job fairs and after the Las Vegas shooting, pushed for a ban on assault rifles and bump stocks. Kelly opposed the GOP tax plan spearheaded by President Donald Trump. Kelly said the plan is economically unfair, agreeing with experts who say families making under $100,000 a year are funding the tax breaks for the one percent. Kelly’s opponent, Marcus Lewis of Matteson aims to build a jobs program to rebuild the Southeast Side. He wants to repeal President Trump’s tax reform law. Lewis, a minister and former U.S. Postal Service employee, lacks the political experience and savvy to effectively challenge the status quo in Washington.
DANNY K. DAVIS
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 7TH DISTRICT
Danny K. Davis is seeking his 11th term in office as a veteran congressman and activist for young Black males, who as forgotten citizens, have fallen behind in education and the job market. Last September Davis sponsored a massive conference that focused solely on saving Black males who have little hope and success of leading productive lives. Black males remain the majority of over 7,000 inmates in Cook County jail. And several reports say the quality of life for Blacks is the lowest among ethnic groups. In January, Davis joined Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Dwight Evans (D-PA) in introducing a new bail reform bill on Capitol Hill. The new legislation was praised by Chicago businessman and philanthropist Dr. Willie D. Wilson, who spearheaded a successful plan to lower the Cook County cash bail system.
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL
There are two candidates highly qualified to fill the big void left by 14-year Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Of the two, Kwame Raoul is the one that make the biggest impact. With law enforcement and businesses issues among the challenges in Illinois, Raoul is the toughest candidate who has the greatest potential to pick up where Madigan left off. His knowledge and political savvy in Springfield and Chicago will serve him well as the state’s next top attorney. A former Cook County Attorney, Raoul is not only a skilled candidate, but one who is tough enough to continue Madigan’s lawsuit to force reforms in the Chicago Police Department. As State Senator, Raoul sponsored and passed important common-sense laws to help curb gun crimes in Illinois. He passed a law that holds adults accountable for any gun offenses committed by youths if they illegally sell firearms to minors. Raoul has sponsored legislation to protect the voting rights of citizens and is a strong opponent to an effort to suppress the votes of largely minority populations.
LAMONT ROBINSON JR.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, 5TH DISTRICT
A small business owner with two Allstate Insurance branches, Lamont Robinson Jr. has a B.A. in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University; MBA from National Louis University. Young, poised and articulate, Robinson is a rising star in Illinois politics. He plans to stimulate economic development and reduce urban blight in District 5. He also aims to reduce gun violence and increase funding for neighborhhood schools. Robinson believes the state minimum wage should be raised from $8.25 an hour to $15. Robinson says the state’s funding formula for public schools should be revised because students deserve a “world-class” education regardless of where they live. Robinson believes the state should re-amortize its $130 billion pension liability as long it does not hurt working families. Robinson supports the state freezing property taxes and expanding exemptions for the middle class, for seniors and for veterans.
CURTIS J. TARVER II
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, 25TH DISTRICT
With veteran politician Barbara Flynn Currie retiring after 25 years as State Representative for the 25th District, attorney and businessman Curtis J. Tarver II will provide fresh leadership as he helps usher in a new era in Woodlawn and South Shore. Both neighborhoods are undergoing urban renewal with major development projects leading the way. The District also includes Hyde Park and South Chicago, but Woodlawn and South Shore have been in the spotlight because of concerns of being shut out and gentrification from the Obama Presidential Center and Library and the $30 million project that will merge the South Shore and Woodlawn golf courses. When Currie was first elected in 1978, both neighborhoods were in the midst of major demographic change. Whites were still the majority, but Blacks were becoming the dominant ethnic group as whites began to leave the neighborhoods. Tarver will help steer both neighborhoods towards economic revival and address concerns of gentrification.
State Representative 29th District
Thaddeus Jones is the Illinois State Representative for the 29th district. The 29th district includes all or parts of Chicago, Dolton, South Holland, Lansing, Calumet City, Thornton, Glenwood, Lansing Village, Steger, Crete and Monee. A graduate of Bloom Trail High School he holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Loyola University. He is the first African-American alderman of Calumet City’s Third Ward; founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Jones Foundation. Since he was elected in 2011, Jones has sponsored numerous bills with Illinois Black lawmakers, including State Representative Mary Flowers (31st District) and State Representative Christian Mitchell (26th District).
State Representative 31st District
Mary Flowers is a public servant who stays connected with her constituents. Elected in 1985, Flowers is a tireless advocate for the 31st District, which include parts of Auburn Gresham, Greater Grand Grossing, Englewood, Evergreen Park, Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn and Hickory Hills. Flowers has a tender heart for the children who are abused, and children at the Department of Children and Family Services. Currently, Flowers serves on several committees, including the Illinois Health Care Availability Access Committee, where she is chairperson. During her term, Flowers sponsored many bills in the House than eventually became law. Many of these bills aim to improve health care and the rights of patients.
Richard R. Boykin
Cook County Commissioner, District 1
Incumbent Richard Boykin reinvigorated Cook County politics with community activism in his first term in office. The Crusader looks forward to seeing chapter two in this dynamic public servant. Boykin has prioritized the reduction of gun violence, criminal justice reform, jobs, economic development, and the expansion of mental health services. Boykin has also been a champion for human rights. After Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed numerous health clinics in Chicago, Boykin led the initiative to place a referendum question regarding expanded funding for mental health treatment on the November 2014 ballot. The referendum was county-wide and passed with over 1.4 million votes. In 2015, Commissioner Boykin sponsored numerous ordinances, including: a “no choke” ordinance that bans Cook County Law Enforcement from using chokeholds on suspects. He also sponsored an ordinance that created stiffer financial penalties for individuals caught carrying illegal handguns. He also sponsored ordinance that created a Cook County Commission on Youth, a tax on ammunition, and a Cook County Gun Violence Coordinator and Task Force. What did his opponent Brandon Johnson do? Nothing. Johnson does have a platform to improve education in Cook County, but he has never held a political office. Boykin’s veto of Toni Preckwinkle’s sugar tax was a heroic step in standing up for Cook County residents and businesses that have grown fed up with taxes. Since then, some of the biggest unions in Illinois have flooded his opponent with huge contributions hoping to unseat Boykin. But the attorney from Oak Park can’t be bought or bossed. Boykin is a real crusader. To the public the commissioners seemed to have gone silent in identifying solutions to the county’s budget deficit, Boykin, in fact, worked to identify and support fiscal reforms to shore up the county’s budget and the pension system. Most notably, by insisting on closing 1,017 vacant and open positions from the budget.
Paul J. Montes II
Cook County Commissioner, District 2
Paul Montes II is a lifetime resident of Chicago and has lived in the 2nd District of Cook County Illinois for more than 22 years. He brings a unique perspective to civic and business life, serving both public, non-profit and private sectors. Montes aims to improve the health and living conditions of children. He also has a goal to revitalize underserved communities. An attorney, Montes specializes in business law, real estate, probate law and government relations.
Cook County Commissioner, District 3
Prominent Attorney Bill Lowry has gained widespread support as he enters politics as the best candidate for District 3 County Commissioner. District 3 in Cook County includes Bronzeville, Woodlawn, the Gold Coast, Downtown Chicago and parts of Chatham, Woodlawn, West Englewood and South Shore. For years he has served behind the scenes of retiring Commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler. Lowry has served as the Finance Chair for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and served on the finance committees when Barack Obama was running for president and the U.S. Senate. Lowry is the president and equity partner of Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie & Lowry, P.C., a firm in downtown Chicago.
Stanley S. Moore
Cook County Commissioner, District 3
Stanley Moore is a former staff member for Senate President Emil Jones. Moore has plans to repurpose underutilized County Courthouses, Forest Preserve facilities and Health Care Clinics. Moore aims to improve billing and collection procedures at Cook County Health & Hospital Systems. He intends to make Cook County more affordable for working families and small businesses, and wants to refine the language of the Tax Incentive Code, and pass and remove barriers to businesses that desire to operate in Cook County. Moore said he does not support the Sherriff’s Office taking over the Forest Preserve’s Police Department, fearing the focus of preserving over 75,000 acres of natural landscape would be lost.
Cook County Commissioner, District 5
After 23 years as District 5 Cook County Commissioner, Sims is seeking her sixth term in office. Sims attended Chicago Public Schools as well as Chicago City Colleges. She was elected to serve as Commissioner to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in December 1994. Politically savvy, Sims is a familiar face in Cook County politics. She opposes privatization of county services unless it shows a real benefit to the county other than downsizing the county workforce. She has worked collaboratively with three different Judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County and served as a Rape Victims Advocate.
Cook County Board President
Toni Preckwinkle is seeking a third term as Cook County Board President. Despite making some unpopular decisions, Preckwinkle remains the best candidate for the job. Her opponent, Alderman Bob Fioretti, has failed to prove why he should replace Preckwinkle after a repealed sugar sales tax that sparked protests from residents and retailers. But Preckwinkle deserves reelection not just by default, but because she achieved several significant goals despite facing severe budget cuts during a state budget crisis that left several health programs in jeopardy. Somehow, Preckwinkle kept them going and with fewer resources. She has had tremendous success in reducing the Cook County jail population, which was 10,000 when Preckwinkle took office in 2010. Today there are fewer than 6,000 inmates after many were released on electronic and recognizance bonds. Fewer people are sitting in jail because they can’t afford bail, and operation and staffing cuts are down because of the decline in jail population. Preckwinkle also deserves high marks for boosting the county’s health care system as an effective institution. Under the Affordable Care Act, more patients have insurance and for the first time in 180 years, the health care system was out of the red in 2015 and 2016. In 2016 Preckwinkle lead an effort to pass a countywide $15 minimum wage law to help struggling families keep up with the cost of living. Chicago passed a similar one the previous year, but Preckwinkle followed up to make sure working class families in the city’s outlying suburbs were not left out. Under budget constraints, the county’s work force shrunk by 14 percent and its debts by 11 percent. In 2015 Preckwinkle restored her predecessor Todd Stroger’s penny-per-dollar sales tax to address a budget shortfall, but tough problems sometimes require tough decisions.
Karen A. Yarbrough
Cook County Clerk
Karen A. Yarbrough, seeks to replace longtime Cook County Clerk David Orr, who’s retiring after 37 years. As Cook County Recorder of Deeds and Registrar of Titles, Yarbrough managed a $12 million budget and 160 employees – the second largest Recorder’s office in the United States. In her first two years as Recorder, Yarbrough made fundamental changes to the Office of County Recorder, adding advocacy to an office traditionally seen as a ministerial repository of documents. In addition to good stewardship of budgeted funds by doing more with less funding each year, she has made the Cook County Recorder’s Office a national model in the fight against property fraud. In 2020 the Record of Deeds office will merge with the County Clerk’s office after voters approved a referendum in 2016 to save the county money.
Cook County Assessor
Tax bills had never gone out on time for 34 consecutive years before Berrios became Assessor. 13 years under the previous assessor totaled 39 late months which cost taxpayers many tens of millions of dollars in interest. Zero late months under Assessor Berrios have saved many tens of millions of dollars. On-time tax bills ensure that school districts, municipalities and other taxing bodies receive revenue on schedule and thus do not have to borrow money to meet budget. By eliminating that borrowing, $5 million to $6 million of countywide would-be monthly interest is saved – it adds up. Those savings are passed on to taxpayers. As the first Latino in a countywide office and during his time as Chairman of the Democratic Party, Berrios has helped to get 72 percent more minorities and twice as many women elected to county office.
WATER RECLAMATION DISTRICT, 6-YEAR TERM