(Chicago, IL) — January 26, 2010. Cook County candidate reform coalitions are all the fashion rage these days.
Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, a candidate for Cook County Board President, yesterday forged a another new reform coalition with County Board of Commissioners candidates State Representative John Fritchey and Dr. Victor Forys which targets the county’s health system at the top of its reform agenda, focusing on independent governance.
“I am the only candidate for Cook County Board President who has unequivocally pledged to make permanent the independent Board of Directors,” said Preckwinkle.
“I will be the only medical doctor on the County Board … [and] I vow to use my medical expertise to work with the independent board to create a better system for the citizens of Cook County,” said Forys, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the special election last year to fill Rahm Emanuel’s House seat.
The Preckwinkle-Fritchey-Forys reform coalition comes nearly two months after another group of Democratic Cook County candidates assembled a similar reform alliance–a group which also includes Forys.
The group, spearheaded by Todd Connor, a candidate for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, included, in addition to Forys: Ray Figueroa (Cook County Assessor), Ade Onayemi (1st County Board District), Sheila Chalmers-Currin (5th County Board District), John Fairman (6th County Board District) and Xavier Nogueras (8th County Board District.)
Both Connor and Preckwinkle have swapped mutual endorsements for their individual candidacies.
Preckwinkle spokesperson Jenny Neves said the there was no merger of two coalitions because the alderman’s reform group was limited to county health issues which fall under the board’s direct authority versus broadening the reform focus to include other units of county government.
“This coalition is looking directly at what the Cook County Board has purview over,” said Neves.
In addition to the county’s health care system, the Preckwinkle coalition pledges to create more transparency within the entire system and implement auditing and accounting practices.
“Whether the issue is improving our health care system, more efficient use of taxpayer dollars or greater transparency in government operations, it is clear that it is time to take Cook County government in a better direction,” saud Fritchey, who is seeking the 12th District seat being vacated by Forrest Claypool.
Preckwinkle, who is seeking to oust incumbent Board President Todd Stroger, is the surging front-runner in the four candidate Democratic primary. Fritchey, a high-profile and successful state lawmaker, is widely expected to win his race. Doubt lingers over Forys’ chances, according to informed political observers.
With all the “reform coalitions” sprouting in the Democratic primary, Cook County government may be on the verge of a new day. Now that “new day” might look messy and noisy with a bunch of independent, thoughtful, and progressives who would likely go after the dinosaur politics and polices of the rump, lump of boring traditionalists who would remain on the Board, but that would be a good thing.
And some of the future skirmishing may even between progressives themselves since even a joint reform candidate coalition seems beyond their reach or desire. But that’s ok.
“Boring” created the mess that is Cook County government. “Noisy” just might fix it.