Today marks Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's first anniversary on the job. Has she fulfilled her campaign promises? She joins us to talk about this and more on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle celebrates one year in office on Tuesday, December 6. Over the last year, despite tough choices including layoffs and budget cuts, Preckwinkle has garnered the support of the county board and passed two balanced budgets, in the process saving taxpayers a total of $800 million by closing budget gaps.
In a press release from the Cook County Board office, Preckwinkle detailed the successes and challenges of the past year, the current work being done, and plans for the following year. In a handwritten preface to the 44-page report, Preckwinkle thanked the residents of Cook County:
“We walked in the door facing numerous challenges, but with your ideas, encouragement and support, we have been able to accomplish so much of what we set out to do,” Preckwinkle wrote.
Preckwinkle’s first year was marked by four chief goals: initiatives to improve the county’s fiscal responsibility by keeping taxes as low as possible and used effectively, provide innovative leadership with an emphasis on collaboration and professionalism, maintain an atmosphere of transparency and accountability to make government more accessible to residents and improve Cook County Services in key areas such as criminal justice and health care.
And Preckwinkle was able to keep her word. In one year’s time, she was able to roll back the 1 percent sales tax increase, impose a moratorium on capital projects with the potential for $100 million in savings for residents, and pass the 2012 budget before the start of the fiscal year, a rarity for Cook County government.
While achieving much, the outspoken County Board President hasn’t shied away from controversy either, criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn for the state’s $60 million in backlogged Medicaid reimbursements, and President Barack Obama for failing to cover undocumented immigrants in his health care plan. Her matter-of-fact and sometimes blunt style has irked some over time, but the former University of Chicago professor has made allies by making good on her promises.
“I think everything that she's done, she's done really well. I disagreed with some of the things that she's done," said Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler in a December 5 Chicago Tribune article, adding: "When you get public support, it's hard to fail."
In the coming year, Preckwinkle pledges to makes progress in a number of areas. Among her goals are long-term financial planning efforts, fair and efficient criminal justice by offering community-based alternatives for low-risk, nonviolent offenders, and accessible, effective and efficient health care by working closely with the Cook County Health & Hospitals System.
For more information, visit the links and view the full progress report in the PDF below.