Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin faces 2 newcomers in primary election

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Commissioner Larry Suffredin has represented Cook County's 13th District since 2002. (WLS)

Long-time Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, a supporter of the controversial now-repealed soda tax, faces two first-time candidates in the March 20 primary election.

Suffredin, 70, is being challenged by two fellow Democrats who are much younger. The other candidates seeking to represent the county's 13th District are Bushra Amiwala, a 20-year-old DePaul University student who is a Muslim woman, and Daniel Foster, a 30-year-old software developer who is a married gay man.

On Tuesday, Amiwala -- a former intern for former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois -- talked to Niles West High School students about getting involved in the political process. Friends encouraged her to run for commissioner.

Bushra Amiwala, 20, is looking to unseat Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

"They noted how I have a lot of the natural skills you need to be a leader and to hold elected office, and my heart was sort of in the right place," Amiwala said.

Amiwala was among several dozen women featured on the cover of Time magazine in January. She is making property tax reform a key issue and does not believe her age or background is a problem, instead she sees them as an asset.

"I think I'd serve as a voice for all people of color, all immigrant families, all young people and I think that's something I can bring to the table inherently that no other commissioner has been able to," Amiwala said.

Foster is the other newcomer in the race. He has been going door-to-door handing out fliers.

"One of the things that really motivated me to run was the election of Donald Trump. One of the reasons that people voted for Trump was they're very nervous about what's ahead of us," Foster said.

Daniel Foster, 30, is running against Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

Foster says he's optimistic about the future. Foster is also pushing for property tax reforms, but sees another issue as critical too.

"One of the reasons why I picked this particular office is because it has a lot to do with criminal justice with the sheriff's department and county jail and I really want to have an impact on ending the era of mass incarceration," Foster said.

Suffredin is a lawyer by trade and has been in office since 2002. He believes his experience and vision make him the best candidate.

"The county is really stealth government nobody really knows exactly what we do or why we do it and it's important for us to have new ideas so I believe I can be the agent of change I think I have been the agent of change on this county board," he said.

An important issue for Suffredin is the forest preserve district which just celebrated its 100th anniversary.

"I want to take steps to improve quality of the land by doing more restoration projects, figuring out better ways to fund this land and to buy the last 2,000 acres that we are allowed to under law," Suffredin said.

Suffredin said he's not taking the election for granted just because he's the incumbent and his challenges are political newcomers. He would like to win, but at his age, if he loses, he's OK with that, too.
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