Democrat Commissioner Earlean Collins easily defeated Green candidate Ronald Lawless in Cook County’s 1st District in last Tuesday’s election. The 1st Dist. covers parts of the West Side and western suburbs, including Austin, Maywood and Oak Park.
Despite criticism from her opponent of her support for outgoing President Todd Stroger’s 2008 penny-on-the-dollar county sales tax hike-and that she’s not visible in the district-Collins pulled off a decisive win with 86 percent of the vote.
Collins won more than 67,000 votes to Lawless’ roughly 10,000. In the city, Collins swept all 10 of the wards that touch the 1st District. In suburban Cook County, the she won roughly 26,000 votes; Lawless tallied just fewer than 7,000 votes, according to the Cook County Clerk’s office.
Lawless said he knew going into the campaign that the district heavily favored Democrats, but he thought a financially-troubled county budget and Collins remaining largely out of sight would help him.
“Collins has spent her time on the board doing little more than picking up a paycheck,” said Lawless, an educational consultant. “People want more for their votes; they want a representative who comes around even when it’s not Election Day.”
The Austin native added that Collins was never interested in debating the issues and stayed quiet through out the campaign.
“Collins was able to win because the support of the Democratic Party is strong in her district,” said Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Even though Lawless ran a strong race, in general, the Green Party was not strong enough to off-set the strength of the Democratic Party.”
Collins was first elected commissioner in 1998 after 21 years in the Illinois Senate.