Dems, GOP square-off for two local County Board seats
November 2, 2018

By Patrick Butler

In the 3rd and 11th Cook County Commissioner districts, races feature both a Democrat and a Republican.

Bill Lowry.

3rd District

Longtime 3rd District Commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler is retiring. Bill Lowry won the March Democratic primary and hopes to succeed Butler. Attorney Lowry is president of and a partner in the law firm of Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie & Lowry PC.

Lowry’s overriding concern is dealing with the 3rd District’s “Tale Of Two Cities.” One city is the Gold Coast, “well resourced, brimming with revenue and opportunity,” Lowry said, and the other is the Soul Coast, “where I’ve witnessed people treated like outsiders—separate, unequal, and unseen.”

If elected, Lowry plans to push for quality health care—particularly mental health and dental care. Married to a dentist, Lowry knows good dental care can head off other medical problems. He also wants to provide enough money to support county services and reduce the juvenile and adult jail populations by creating programs that reduce repeat offenses and reintegrate offenders back into society.

A hands-on community activist as well as a lawyer, Lowry created The It’s Time Organization (TITO) after a 2013 incident when someone shot a 15-year-old boy ten feet from his house.

“I told all of my neighbors and anyone who would listen, ‘It’s time for us to stop hiding; we need to step up and play a role in our community,” he said. “So we organized.”

Lowry has served as finance chair for both Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign as well as for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s  campaigns.

He lists John F. Kennedy, his parents, Martin Luther King, and Harold Washington as role models.

For more information, see https://billlowry.com/.

George Blakemore.

George Blakemore is no stranger to anyone who has been around City and County meetings of any kind in the past few years. The Republican candidate and self-deputized civic guardian swears he has spoken at as many as ten meetings a day, “knowing that if I don’t come, it’s a possibility no one would be there to represent the public.”

That alone should qualify the Texas-born onetime Chicago Public Schools teacher and Maxwell Street vendor for doing battle with Cook County Commissioners. His public comments before the Chicago City Council have irritated so many elected officials that Aldermen Edward Burke (14th Ward) and Michelle Harris (8th Ward) introduced a proposed ordinance two years ago setting a three-minute limit on each public speaker’s comments at all City Council meetings.

On the other hand, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) backed Gold Coast resident Blakemore more than once when Blakemore voiced opposition to several pieces of legislation.

“While I don’t have a PhD in public policy, I do have a BA in public policy and government,” Blakemore said, adding he wants his example to encourage others to get up and voice their opinions instead of leaving the job to him all the time.

Blakemore, however, is far from being just a “gadfly,” as other media have described him. He recently won a court case acting as his own lawyer after being arrested for selling hats in a Near North Side area that bans street vendors.

“And while, when I get to speaking, my heart can get to beating hard because I get so passionate, I always try to conduct myself as a gentleman,” he added.

Blakemore has no website.

John P. Daley.

11th District

John P.  Daley, Democrat, is the incumbent. This senior member of the Daley family served in the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate in the 1980s and has been on the Cook County board since 1992.

After talking with numerous constituents, Daley said during the coming term he likely will emphasize curbing rising taxes. Noting Cook County has not raised its share of the property tax levy in the past 15 years, Daley said it is important to “continue that trend.”   

One way to start could be combining the county’s human resources, information technology, and procurement operations, he added.

Daley said it is “essential” that the county hospital system standardize accounts receivable procedures and fill critical vacancies in the billing and collections departments so the county has the “best opportunity to collect funds due.”

On the other hand, Daley said the County Board is the only government unit in Illinois making supplemental payments to the county’s pension fund. These payments from the county sales tax increase will total more than $950 million by the end of 2018.

Daley has shown no reluctance to take an independent line against Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Daley’s vote was the key one in the repeal of Preckwinkle’s soda pop tax.

He even has said a revenue forecasting commission, which Preckwinkle opposes, may be worth considering, although he expressed concerns about the cost of such a new layer of government.

For more information, see www.cookcountyil.gov/person/john-p-daley.

Steven S. Graves.

Republican contender Steven S. Graves said his focus will be on “jobs, lower taxes, secure borders, and objective judges” and promises to serve only two terms and remember that “transparency must be the key to any elected office.”

Graves, who owns a neighborhood real estate company, said, “the Democratic Party has to stop punishing success.”

At the same time, Graves would “like to see county expenses cut. They had a $5 billion budget, and they actually wanted more,” so they added a soda tax that they later repealed, Graves said.

“My two questions: when that [a proposed tax hike] happens is, ‘What’s it going to cost?’ and ‘Who’s going to pay for it?’” Graves said. “Taxes are just too high for everybody.”

With a $5 billion budget for one county, “there’s got to be excess spending somewhere,” Graves said.

“Let’s decrease expenses and then see where we go from there,” Graves said.

For more on Graves, log on to https;//www.realtor.com/realestateagents/STEVEN-S-GRAVES _ Chicago_IL_12626_17977571.