Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx won a resounding reelection victory Tuesday night over her Republican challenger Pat O'Brien, winning by some 14 points.
The race pitted Foxx’s message of criminal justice reform against the law-and-order, tough-on-crime candidacy of former prosecutor and judge O'Brien.
But while Foxx came out on top, her win comes amid a surge in violence that has seen a 50% rise in homicides since last year.
In an interview with “Chicago Tonight” on Wednesday, Foxx said in her second term she would continue to push a message of “justice reform and public safety” and that a safer city could only be achieved by “reforming those parts of our system that had failed so many.”
Foxx said she wanted to continue to shift the emphasis from low-level, non-violent offenses to violent crime.
“Moving forward, we want to double down on our efforts of focusing our attention on violent crime, on gun crimes that have devastated our communities this year and has been a stubborn issue for years past,” said Foxx. “That means working with community partners to deal with issues like substance use disorder and mental health at the community level rather than in the justice system.”
Foxx said her office’s anti-violence efforts were informed by doing a lot of work on the impact of trauma and the need for trauma-informed resources.
“The reality is that a lot of the people who end up victims of violent crime have themselves had incidents when they themselves have had a gun or (been) near a gun,” said Foxx. “We know if we treat it like a public health model by infusing resources on the front end rather than just responding on the back end – whether that’s connecting someone to mental health services or to a job, or to a network in the community before they pick up a gun – that would be helpful."
In the interview, Foxx also addressed the lack of women of color in the justice system, particularly in senior positions.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand that having a Black woman as a chief prosecutor is a rarity,” said Foxx. “Less than 1% of prosecutors in this country are women of color. And there were about – until last night – maybe two dozen Black women who do this work in a justice system, particularly in urban areas, that is overrepresented by African Americans and Latinos.”
Foxx said that her lived experience as a Black woman also meant that she felt compelled to address “the elephant in the room around race and equity and justice that we are too afraid to talk about.”
The Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, strongly backed her rival’s law-and-order agenda and has been critical of Foxx as state’s attorney. But Foxx said her office had a “wonderful working relationship” with rank-and-file police officers who she said wanted to fight crime rather than be asked to act as social workers, drug counselors and mental health professionals.
“If you talk to a lot of rank-and-file officers they will tell you that we can’t police our way out of a lot of the issues that we are seeing,” said Foxx.
She noted the FOP leadership had endorsed President Donald Trump “who has a fundamentally different view of criminal justice than I do.”