Preckwinkle running decidedly low-key reelection campaign

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is running a low-profile midterm election campaign for another term to lead the county government after winning her June primary with more than three-quarters of the vote

She now faces Democrat-turned-Republican former Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Libertarian Thea Tsatsos for a fourth term but, as head of the Cook County Democratic Party, is spending most of her time boosting other Democrats’ campaigns ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.

“I’m really grateful for all the help I received in the primary, and I’m optimistic about the general election,” she said. “What I’ve been doing is going to township and ward (Democratic) organizational meetings.”

In addition to attending events in Schaumburg and Orland Park, Preckwinkle is running her own 4th Ward organization, which recently endorsed state Rep. Lamont Robinson (D-5th) to be its alderman.

“He’s somebody I know and like, and he’s got a great record in Springfield, in terms of serving his community,” she said. “He told me some time ago that he wanted to come back.”

Political reporting is forecasting a good midterm year for Republican office-seekers, though continued Democratic control of the state government and at the local level is in very little doubt. 

Preckwinkle, for her part, thinks fellow Democrats need to message their “support for the full spectrum of health care for women,” including abortion rights, given that that issue has now become strictly polarized. 

Asked if she thought abortion rights would be a galvanizing issue for Illinois voters, Preckwinkle said she hopes it galvanizes Illinois women. 

“I can’t speak for men on it, but I think this is an issue that’s really important for women across the country,” she said. “Who would have thought that the people of Kansas would have decided that reproductive choice should be available to people in Kansas?” 

In addition to abortion rights, Preckwinkle said the county Democrats are highlighting their position on gun policy to voters in mailings. She pointed to the county’s ban on assault weapons that predated her time as its executive, the tax on bullets enacted under administration and the recent state ban on “ghost guns,” aka firearms without serial numbers, that local state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-26th) led to passage.

“The governor has tremendous resources; he’s been good enough to share those with not only Speaker (Chris) Welch and President (Don) Harmon, but also the Cook County Democratic Party,” Preckwinkle said, referring to the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders. “We’re using that money to try to amp up turnout and try to support our county commissioners as well as county-wide electeds.”

She looks forward to the next four years, pointing to federal investments in local government on a scale not seen in decades. That money is going to investments in behavioral health, as the county runs the local public health care system, and a guaranteed income pilot that will give 3,250 income-eligible households $500 a month for two years. More than 230,000 people applied for it, Block Club reported.

“Given our criteria, 250% of (the poverty line), a third of the population of Cook County was eligible,” Preckwinkle said. “And then of course we’ve invested $12 million in eliminating medical debt for folks. And this is not a program for which you have to apply — we’re trying to work out agreements with health care providers and hospitals and just do direct memorandums of understanding with them and basically buy up medical debt.. And we’ll just send people letters saying that their debt has been wiped out and their credit’s been cleaned up.”

The multiplier impact “is pretty significant,” she said, given the price of the debt and the amount of medical people are carrying.

 

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October 31, 2022 at 05:23PM

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