In an astonishingly barren season of political choices, we offer two enthusiastic endorsements. We’re backing Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County board president. And for 1st District Cook County Commissioner we offer our support to Austin businessman Ade Onayemi.

Toni Preckwinkle for county board president

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle is smart, progressive, independent and cool in that sort of Obama like way they must be bottling down in Hyde Park. A teacher for a decade, an independent alderman for two decades, Preckwinkle is just now hitting her stride as a candidate. She has held back on personal attacks or over promising. She has just doggedly made the points – this government costs too much, favors the few, and doesn’t work in delivering health care efficiently or adequately. Toni Preckwinkle has detailed plans. She has political acumen. She understands, in her understated way, that this government must be taken apart and put back together on an entirely new model. She deserves your vote.

Ade Onayemi for 1st District seat

We have known and admired Ade Onayemi’s work in Oak Park and in Austin for many years. A native of Nigeria and a political person whose outlook was shaped by the dysfunction of that country’s history, he understands that Cook County has failed in ways both big and small. He grasps the waste and the corruption, the systems failure in providing health care to the poor and uninsured, the debacle at the juvenile detention center and in the county jail. He has a public career as an elected school board member and board president in Oak Park, as an education activist on the West Side. He has a private career as an architect with offices in Austin. Those public and private efforts integrate into a life spent listening well, building coalitions, solving problems, making difficult choices. We offer him our strongest endorsement.

A word concerning Earlean Collins, who has been a county commissioner for 14 years: she is both apologetic and defiant about her years of invisibility in this district. Talking to the press, meeting voters was never her priority, she said, because she always took a more global view of the job and was off in Springfield and in Washington doing important work. Collins actually is more impressive than anticipated. She has more facts and more perspective on the range of many woes enveloping this bloated bureaucracy. But here’s the damning quote as she made the case for more time, one more election: “County government is different. The people in power aren’t running it,” she said of elected officials doing battle with a legion of patronage hires, entrenched bureaucrats and assorted hangers-on. There then is the argument. No more tinkering around the edges. No more room for swing votes or compromises. This government is rotten; it is out of the control of the people we elect. In hard times it sucks up far too much
money without any expectation of accountability, and it fails to serve those in need.

Collins is sincere. And we will accept that she is hard-working. But she should have taken her own advice and retired before this election. She had her opportunity and now it is time for wholesale change.