Vacant seat on Cook County board turns into controversy

Monday, September 18, 2006

The vacant seat on the Cook County board has turned into the commissioner controversy for the two candidates running for board president. The fourth Cook County commissioner district has been without a representative since John Stroger resigned the post and board presidency last July.

John Stroger actually had two jobs when he was disabled by a serious stroke in March -- president of the Cook County board and commissioner of the 4th district on the South Side. The board elected Bobbie Steele to replace Stroger as president temporarily. Stroger's son Todd -- is on the November ballot as the democratic nominee for president. But no one has filled the 4th district commissioner's spot. That is creating a commissioner controversy in the eyes of Stroger's republican opponent.

"If you listen to Todd Stroger, as he attempts to talk about the county issues, he does not have the knowledge of the county budget. He does not have the knowledge of the county operation," said Tony Peraica, (R) Nominee for Cook County President.

Republican Tony Peraica says if his democratic opponent -- Todd Stroger -- really wants to learn about county government and give the South Side residents of his father's former county board district a voice in county affairs, then Todd should take over his dad's old district for the next few weeks -- instead of allowing the seat to remain vacant until December when Alderman Bill Beavers is expected to become the district's new commissioner.

"Todd Stroger has chosen to ignore the residents of the fourth district and has chosen not to educate himself about the county operation," said Peraica.

Stroger says he can't take over the county board district now because he is still an alderman. But he claims the employees of the district office are taking care of business so no one is losing out on services. One local community leader agrees.

"I feel like in his absence we haven't missed out on anything. I think that they have been on top of everything since he's been gone," said Michelle McCrimmon, Pill Hill Community Organization.

"People in the office have been there for a while. They know how to treat the residents, what the constituents need, and how to act on their desires," said Todd Stroger, (D) Nominee for Cook County President.

Stroger also claims to be boning up on the intricacies of county government by studying position papers and meeting with county officials.

"I do have knowledge of the county, and I will be working with presidents on the budget issues. She has told me she will help me," said Todd Stroger.

" Last night on a WLS radio program, Todd Stroger says he hasn't had the chance to look at the county budget. Last week, he couldn't name the county inspector general spite the fact he was calling for a new one," said Peraica.

The main theme of the Peraica campaign is that he is qualified. After four years on the board, as a commissioner fighting for reform, Peraica says Todd Stroger is only on the ballot because of his name and has no experience in county government. Stroger says he learned a lot from his father and he is catching up on the missing pieces now.

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