Cook County State's Attorney Democratic candidates discuss public safety in primary debate

Craig Wall Image
Friday, February 9, 2024
Public safety top topic at Cook County State's Attorney debate
The winner of the Cook County State's Attorney' Democratic primary is expected to win the general election in November.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Democrats vying to be the next Cook County State's Attorney participated in ABC7 Chicago's "Your Voice Your Vote 2024: The Cook County State's Attorney Democratic Primary Debate," ahead of the March 19 primary.

The race featured Clayton Harris III and Eileen O'Neill Burke.

The race for Cook County State's Attorney will be one of the most important primary elections this spring. The winner of the democratic primary expected to win the general election in November.

Burke hoped her years as a prosecutor and judge help convince voters she is the better candidate.

Harris said he is counting on his endorsement by party leaders and his diverse background as prosecutor and lecturer on public policy.

Both candidates discussed concerns about gun violence and what how to resolve it.

Public Safety

The Democratic candidates laid out their vision for how they would pursue safety and justice in Cook County.

"We are going to aggressively prosecute individuals with guns that are committing crimes with guns," Harris said.

"Every time someone is found with an assault weapon we need to seek detention and a jail sentence," Burke said.

Smash and Grabs

Last fall, current Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx raised the threshold for filing felony charges from the state law level of $300 to $1,000.

The candidates offered different approaches to Foxx' current threshold.

"Not enforcing the law doesn't deter crime, it promotes crime and we're seeing the ramifications of that all over the city," Burke said.

"We're going to charge as a blanket $1,000 as a felony, and below it as a misdemeanor or however the other facts go," Harris said.

Wrongful Convictions

When the topic came up about dealing with wrongful convictions, the conversation got testy as Harris brought up a 30-year--old case Burke prosecuted against a juvenile who confessed.

"Wrongful convictions are not just and they don't make us safer," Harris said. "We saw that with my opponent when she wrongfully convicted a ten year old child."

"No court has ever questioned my conduct in that case or in any case." Burke said. "The only allegation about that case emerged 30 years later from Mr. Harris and his allies."

Early voting for the March 19 primary election will open Thursday, February 15 at 9:00 a.m.

To the 60-minute debate "Your Voice Your Vote 2024: The Cook County State's Attorney Democratic Primary Debate" click here.