Former appellate court justice Eileen O'Neill Burke launching Cook County state's attorney bid

Clayton Harris III, Jim Durkin, Joe Ferguson and Bob Fioretti are also considering running

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Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Former appellate court justice launching Cook Co. state's attorney bid
Former appellate court justice Eileen O'Neill Burke is launching her bid to replace Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A former appellate court justice is launching a bid to replace Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, who this spring announced she would not run for reelection next year.

Justice Eileen O'Neill Burke said she wants to bring integrity to the office, and make sure violent criminals are kept behind bars.

Burke is a former assistant state's attorney and defense attorney who most recently served as an appellate court justice. She stepped down earlier this month to run for Cook County state's attorney.

"We are in a point where there's a surge in crime and the state's attorney's office is woefully understaffed and cannot handle that surge right now. So we'll need somebody who will be a steady hand at the wheel and get the ship righted," Burke said.

Burke promises to bring a tough but balanced approach to the office, not letting the statewide elimination of cash bail in the fall be a deterrent to tackling violent crime.

"There are people that need to be detained, that actually present a threat to public safety. Those people are those who have victimized someone, anyone who's threatened somebody with a gun," Burke said.

But Burke also stressed she wants to create a bureau for restorative justice.

"We put juvenile court in there, mental health courts, veterans' courts, drug courts; we put them all in one bureau, and we let them cross-pollinate on what is working and what is effective," Burke said.

Clayton Harris III, a professor of public policy at the University of Chicago, has already announced he's running.

Richard Boykin said he'll launch his candidacy soon. Others considering running include Jim Durkin, Joe Ferguson and Bob Fioretti.

Burke seemed unconcerned.

"I stand out because of my record, because of my experience, because of how much I have done in the last 30 years with the criminal justice system. There will be nobody with my credentials in this race," Burke said.

As for the Jussie Smollett hoax attack case, in which Foxx's office came under fire for dropping charges, Burke was guarded with her criticism.

"How would I handle that one? I hope I would have handled it better. But I will tell you this. Every decision that I make will be fair and I will follow the law," Burke said.

Burke will be formally kicking off her campaign for state's attorney Wednesday night with a fundraiser at Plumbers Hall, in a race that is sure to draw a lot of interest in the days and months ahead.