Dart dances fine line between sheriff, mayor races

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart at a news conference Thursday, March 5, 2009, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
October 25, 2010 3:25:00 PM PDT
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is running for re-election on November 2nd, but also eyeing the position of Chicago mayor. His opponents think voters should support them since they want to be sheriff.

At first glance, Dart's low key manner may make him more likely to be sheriff of Mayberry than Cook County. But in fewer than four years, Dart has developed a keen ability to earn huge headlines. From refusing to evict people from foreclosed homes to turning an entire cemetery into a crime scene after a grave-selling scandal, Dart has made his presence felt far beyond the traditional fiefdom of the county sheriff.

"I've been effective. I've been frugal with money and I've tried to restore people's confidence in government," said Dart.

Dart is dancing a fine line this election by running for sheriff while circulating petitions for Chicago mayor and giving his opponents some ammunition.

"Why should a voter take their hard earned vote and give it to somebody who really doesn't want it?" said Frederick Collins, (R) candidate for Cook County sheriff.

Frederick Collins is Chicago police officer who's worked the streets for 17 years. He's running as a Republican and believes allowing Cook County residents to carry concealed weapons would reduce the crime rate.

"I believe that every responsible American should have the right to protect [himself]," said Collins.

Marshall Lewis is a supervisor in the county jail who is running for sheriff, he says, to restore morale among officers. He also takes issue with Dart's decision to pull out of Burr Oak Cemetery before people every displaced corpse was identified.

"I've had many people call me and say, 'When [are] they going to call me? I got loved ones in the cemetery, no one's notified me,'" said Lewis, Green Party.

Dart said time, money and science made positively identifying every body at Burr Oak next to impossible.

Politically speaking, it's clear Tom Dart is hedging his bets and hoping to safely secure another term as sheriff this November so he'll have a job to fall back on if his run for mayor fails this spring.

"I've tried not to lie to people and say, 'Oh, no I'm going to be here forever and ever.' You don't know what future speculation holds," said Dart.


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