Brian Dennehy

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About the Candidate

Name: Brian Dennehy
DOB: Nov. 14, 1970
Occupation: Attorney
Political Experience: Upset citizen tired of listening to political platitudes.
Facebook: Brian Dennehy for Cook County State's Attorney

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

I believe Edmund Burke when he said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I won’t be so arrogant as to call myself a “good man.” I’m working on it like everyone else, but I feel compelled to try.

Peaceful order is a precondition to ensuring the blessings of liberty for all the people and is incompatible with “comply or die.” The natural rights of all people are threatened when excessive force is used by an unaccountable authority. We place the lives of officers and residents in danger every time we ask police officers to approach residents. It is my intention to question the purpose and effect of the use police officers and prosecutors to address social ills. 

What is your vision for this office?

To further the interests of liberty and justice for all the people. America, the land of the free, has too many people who haven’t actually harmed anyone being held in cages. It’s outrageous how quickly we, as Americans, criminalize an activity and use force to coerce others to comply with seemingly arbitrary social edicts. What do liberty and justice mean? What does a free and just society look like as we try make it real in the world around us?

I find it difficult to morally justify prosecuting and incarcerating adult persons engaged in peaceful, voluntary activities such as drug possession & distribution or consensual sex work. The use of, or threat of force, should be reserved for those who cause or present an imminent danger of causing actual harm to others. Accordingly, to the extent of my lawful discretion, I wouldn’t prosecute non‐violent adult consent “crimes.” My administration would focus investigative and prosecutorial powers almost exclusively on those who harm other people. Other social ills are better addressed by health and medical professionals. 

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?

I’ve lived in Chicago for more than 30 years and grew up South Side Irish in the Back of the Yards. The beginning of summer brings with it the summer murder season. It’s been this way throughout my life. With the massive unemployment created by the lockdowns, violence in the county is likely to increase significantly next summer.

I listen to the other candidates and recognize that their solutions don’t work. On the one side is more police violence under the guise of “law and order;” the other side is more realistic, but is still just half‐ steps. By any objective measure, the War on Drugs has failed. Illegal drugs continue to flow, have become more dangerous, and the illegality maintains a lucrative and violent black‐market trade similar to that experienced during the prohibition of alcohol. Ultimately, the decriminalization of drugs can and should be addressed by legislators. Arresting, caging, and prosecuting drug offenders is a complete waste of Cook County’s scarce resources that would be better spent investigating and prosecuting violent offenders. Drug abuse is a medical and health issue, not a criminal justice issue.

The people have created local organizations that interrupt violence and try to bring peace to their communities. For example, in the Austin neighborhood, local residents have tried to work with “the guys” who stand on the street corners by asking them to shovel snow and keep an eye out for trouble from outside the area. It may sound simple, but shoveling snow for the community gives a sense of pride and ownership. People-based, rather than police or prosecutor based, solutions can help bring us together and peace to our communities.

As Cook County State’s Attorney, I would listen to and work with community organizations to find solutions that are actually effective in reducing violence rather than turning to prosecutors, police, and cages for every problem. Honorable and hardworking police officers are being exhausted, demoralized, and villainized. They’re asked to do too much. We can and must do better for the people, including our police officers.