By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Veteran Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown Tuesday easily won re-election, saying she’s glad that the Cook County Democratic Party “dumped” her. She said the people picked her up as she regained her (independent) voice. Through it all, she said the entire rejection has made her a “warrior.”
Brown ran against Jacob Meister and Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward) who was endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party after a story ran about a FBI agent taking Brown’s cell phone during an investigation into a building she and her husband sold in North Lawndale. The Party had initially endorsed Brown, but withdrew their support and instead backed Harris.
Despite the controversy, Brown won 461,192, or 48% of the vote. Harris received 31 percent or 296,226 votes. Meister received 212,287, or 22% of the vote.
In conceding, Harris said, “I think it was a good race, a good learning lesson, an opportunity to get to know the County and the residents and to go from one end of the world to the other end in Cook County. I think it was the most marvelous process I’ve been a part of.
Tio Hardiman, who was running against Brown but pulled out for the sake of unity, said “What this victory tonight really signals is a defeat of the machine in Illinois. I was actually wrong for even thinking about trying to run against her. She is a friend of mine.”
U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-7th) was excited about Brown’s victory. “She had the deck stacked against her, odds-uncertainly against her- but the people know when you are doing a good job and she deserved to win.”
Pastor Ira Acree, from Greater St. John Bible Church, was equally excited. “We beat the machine tonight. We beat the Democratic Party. It is a phenomenal night, a big night for our community. With so much going on and people are stressed, people need a victory.”
The first Black Clerk of the Circuit Court, Brown, who has been in office for 16-years, ran on the banner of being “Unbought and Unbossed” from political machines and handlers.
When she first ran for City Treasurer in 1999 against Miriam Santos, a 12-year incumbent, Brown said a high-level ally of Mayor Richard J. Daley told her she would win the race if she agreed to be a figurehead and allow someone to run that office.
Brown refused. In her first run for office, she nearly won. She received 49 percent to Santos’ 51 percent, but she said it taught her to be her own person.
At her victory party held at the National Association of Letter Carriers Union Hall, 3850 S. Wabash, she thanked her supporters, especially those who prayed for her.
Brown, who was endorsed by the Chicago Crusader said, “When the Cook County Party dumped me, what they did for me, in the words of Hillary Clinton, they gave me my voice back.
“Because they made me dig way down inside and find the Dorothy Brown that the Lord gave me a long time ago to simply help people.” The crowd began chanting “Dorothy, Dorothy.”
“They gave me voice to connect with people I never connected with before. They gave me the voice to be strong, to be confident, to be a warrior. They renewed my faith in God.
“People had an opportunity to connect with me to find out more who I am and what I have done in this office. There is no other elected official I know around the country who has the kind of credentials I have, an attorney, CPA, MBA with a technology minor. I am a professional first then an elected official second. It’s about service. I have a heart to serve people, and I’ll continue to do that.”
Praising her employees for being hard workers, Brown said, “They help me to communicate the phenomenon technology that we have in our office. It is not dinosaur technology, and we do not have any mimeograph machine. I’ve heard it all.”
Asked about the one employee who is under federal investigation, Brown said, “My office has always been accountable. We select employees by computer. I am sorry about that particular situation. He’s a good man, a great employee. I am very disappointed that occurred.”
Despite losing up to 700 people over the years due to budget cuts, Brown said, “we continue to get the job down.” She vowed to be “a hope for our children and our children’s children.
“All you have to do is to hold on and hold out and after you’ve done all you can, you just stand.” “It’s about service,” Brown said. “I am going to simply serve people.”