By AARON GETTINGER
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who also chairs the county Democratic Party, and Ald. Leslie Hairston have filed petitions with the county clerk as they seek re-election as committeewomen in the 4th and 5th wards on March 17.
Preckwinkle has won unopposed in the last five elections. Hairston, who joined the City Council in 1999, faced opposition just once since then, in 2012, when she won with 64.53% of the vote.
Ward committeemen have voting rights in the Cook County Democratic Party and serve on party committees. Under Illinois law, they cast weighted votes to fill General Assembly vacancies, as happened in the appointments of Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) and Rep. Kambium Buckner (D-26th) earlier this year.
Preckwinkle’s status as county party leader was questioned after her blowout loss in the mayoral runoff earlier this year, though she and Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed to co-host a party fundraiser earlier this fall, as reported by the Tribune.
A majority of Chicago ward and suburban township committeemen elected Preckwinkle chair of the Cook County Democratic Party in April, after Joe Berrios resigned the position after losing the county assessor primary to Hyde Park native Fritz Kaegi.
Scott Kastrup, Preckwinkle’s political director, told the Sun-Times in June that she intends to seek re-election as county executive in 2022.
The petition-filing period closed on Monday, Dec. 2. No Republicans had filed to be party committeemen in the 4th and 5th wards by Herald press time; per the county GOP’s website, the incumbents are Lori Yokoyama (4th) and Matthew Foldi (5th).
The race for Democratic committeeman in the 20th Ward is wide-open, as incumbent Kevin Bailey, who lost his aldermanic campaign earlier this year, is stepping down. Ald. Jeanette Taylor, who identifies as an independent Democrat, is not endorsing a candidate.
In addition to the presidential primary, Hyde Park-Kenwood voters will nominate candidates for U.S. senator and representative, state senator and representative, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago commissioners, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and State’s Attorney of Cook County on March 17. Voters will also elect delegates and alternate delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Vote-by-mail applications open on Dec. 18; voters can cast ballots by mail for any reason. Early voting in the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners’ “Loop Super Site” will begin in late February, with early voting sites in wards opening on March 2.