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Proviso Probe

Monday, August 31, 2009

Prez of Cook County Board, candidate forum, part 2

Earlier I gave a summary of what happened at the WVON forum for Black Democrats running for President of the Cook County Board.

Incumbent Todd Stroger repeatedly made appeals based on ethnic solidarity, being a victim of the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times and some attempts to invoke liberal populism.

Clerk of the Court Dorothy Brown emphasized her credentials and accomplishments in her current job. She used a passionate, somewhat indignant style to make her case.

Congressman Danny K. Davis had a folksy style. He spoke in general terms and sold the idea that he could create consensus amoung the seventeen commissioners and generally bring “hope” to the people.

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle had the fewest supporters in the audience, had trouble connecting with the audience, but she made the case that the Fourth Ward has become more desirable for homeowners and businesses for her having been alderman. She was also the only candidate to speak in specifics about what she would do if elected.

There were issues I felt should be covered more to do justice to want the candidates said. So, I wrote this entry and expect to write at least one more.

Moderator Cliff Kelley asked candidates who are their core voters.

Preckwinkle began by explaining her base in the Fourth Ward and on the South Side and moving outward. She mentioned aldermen she had worked with, especially the Latino caucus. She then mentioned progressives and and independent Whites and ended by mentioning women. Someone from the audience heckled Preckwinkle for not mentioning the West Side, the location of the forum.

Brown quoted a poll which had her leading with 34%, Davis with 30%, Preckwinkle with 10% and Stroger with 8%. Brown said the people were “interested in dollars and cents, not Black and White”. This resulted in heckling. Brown and Stroger supporters seemed the most organized in the audience, so I assume the heckling was from Stroger supporters. Brown finished by saying the election of Barack Obama proved that people vote across ethnic lines if the candidate is “qualified and can get the job done.”

After saying he had a strong base in the Seventh Congressional District Davis cited his own polling. Davis said he had 65-6 favorable to unfavorable rating across Cook County. Among South Side voters his favorables were 71-8; among West Side voters 65-8; in the south 'burbs 61-10. Davis said that the only politicians more popular than him were President Barack Obama and Senator Dick Durbin. Davis noted Mayor Richard Daley's popularity exceeded Davis in the city, but Davis beat Daley in suburban Cook.

Stroger began by saying, “My core voters are people who care about universal health care.... people who care about health and public safety.” He went on to draw attention to the City of Chicago's deficit ($ ½ billion) and the State of Illinois' defict ($7 billion). He emphasized, “The county is solid!”

Cliff Kelly quoted former Cook County Commissioner (now U.S. Representative) Mike Quigley saying that he was disappointed because there had not been any serious discussion of reform in the race.

Preckwinkle disagreed and said Quigley was in Congress and “has not been attentive.... [Quigley is] not as informed as he should be.”

Brown stated Quigley was “out of touch” because her campaign was about reform. Brown touted her support of citizen review commissions and noted, “Quigley did not support that idea.”

Davis said, “Reform is like beauty; it's in the eye of the beholder.” Davis then spoke about campaign financing. He advocated for limits on both contributions and spending, finally calling for publicly financed elections.

While none of the candidates praised Quigley, Stroger spoke with the most hostility. He explained Quigley's philosophy of reform as telling Stroger, “Those people you hired should be fired.” Stroger then said, “We've made change.” Stroger then equated change and reform. Stroger finished by saying of Quigley (and perhaps Commissioners Forrest Claypool and Larry Suffredin), “The only change they want? I want your job.”

Kelley asked Davis circulating why he is circulating two sets of nominating petitions (one to run for re-election as U.S. Representative and one for President of the Cook County board) if he's committed to running for President.

Davis said he had vowed not to be the candidate to split the Black vote as happened when Eugene Sawyer and Timothy Evans opposed each other for mayor. Davis said he believes he will be so far ahead in the polls the other Black candidates will drop from the contest and support him.

Stroger took the opportunity to praise Davis whom he called “a champion” of Cook County in Congress and “great counsel”. With Davis being on the Ways and Means Committee, “Now he can do even more.” This resulted in a standing ovation. “In conclusion,” Stroger said, “I support Congressman Danny Davis for the Seventh Congressional District.”

Brown drew attention to potential candidates for Congress being “disadvantaged” by Davis keeping the option of running for re-election. She also objected to Davis' polling, “I was not in his poll.” Brown said her name recognition was 80% in the city and 74% in the suburbs. She finished by saying, “A leader must be decisive.”

Davis reacted to the comment about other candidates by muttering something about how it shouldn't be a big deal for them to circulate nominating petitions for Congress if they are serious candidates.

In his concluding remarks, Davis made the following claim, “I ain't ever had a job that I didn't do better than the person before me.”

I'm going to write more on this forum later. There was a significant amount of racial politics, which I haven't wrote about yet. You can also read Laura Washington (Sun-Times) or Progress Illinois (Adam Doster).

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