Election Day 2022: Democratic candidates for Cook County president discuss top priorities

Next election in Illinois coming up June 28

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Our Chicago

COOK COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- The Cook County Board president is the county's chief executive officer who, among other things, oversees the county health and criminal justice systems.

Incumbent Toni Preckwinkle is running for a fourth term. She'll face two democratic challengers in the June 28 primary.

ABC7 Chicago spoke with all three candidates: Richard Boykin, Zerlina Smith-Members and the incumbent Toni Preckwinkle. She's served as County Board president since 2010.

WATCH: Our Chicago: Cook County Board President Preckwinkle running for reelection

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is running for reelection.

Previously she was alderman of Chicago's 4th Ward for 19 years. She also taught high school and was an economic development coordinator for the city.

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"We have a historic opportunity in this cycle. And that results from a billion dollar investment from the federal government in our residents and local government. And we're going to be investing in increasing our footprint in behavioral health, a guaranteed income pilot, which will be the nation's largest, and trying to help our residents with medical debt. Those are the three big, innovative initiatives we'll undertake, but we'll also do the kind of infrastructure improvements and investments in social services that we have done historically in Cook County," Preckwinkle said, when asked about her priorities if reelected.

WATCH: Our Chicago: Richard Boykin running for Cook County board president

Richard Boykin is running for Cook County board president.

Richard Boykin is a practicing attorney. His political experience includes serving as chief of staff to Congressman Danny Davis. And from 2014 to 2018, he served as Cook County commissioner. He said the area is facing a public safety crisis.

"I'm running for board president because gun violence, carjacking, retail thefts, all of these things have combined to terrorize communities. Our children are literally dying in the streets; families are not getting justice. My No. 1 priority is to make sure that we have safe streets throughout Cook County," he said.

WATCH: Our Chicago: Zerlina Smith-Members running for Cook County president

Zerlina Smith-Members is running for Cook County president.

The third Democratic candidate for Cook County Board president is Zerlina Smith-Members. She's a South Austin resident and activist who has said she was inspired by her grandmother. In 2019, she ran for Chicago City Council to represent the 29th ward. She said her top priority if elected would be "to make sure that we put the dignity and respect back into the county environment. We at this moment know the county is understaffed, we know the county has an $8.1 billion budget, but yet it still doesn't provide the adequate services that the residents or the employees of the county deserve and need, so make sure we put the people first. That would be my main priority."