Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cook County Democratic Party Unanimously Elects Leadership

The Cook County Democratic Party on Wednesday unanimously re-elected Joseph Berrios to a fifth term as its chairman. In addition, the party unanimously re-elected its executive committee – Toni Preckwinkle, executive vice chairman; Lou Lang, executive vice chairman; Tim Bradford, first vice chairman; Carrie Austin, city vice chairman; Don Harmon, suburban vice chairman; Robert Martwick, secretary; Antonio Munoz, treasurer, and Karen Yarbrough, sergeant-at-arms.

“Thank you for your support to lead this great party,” Berrios told the committeemen. “When we stay together we stay strong together.”

Gov. Patrick Quinn and his Lt. Gov. running mate Paul Vallas addressed the committeemen, calling on their support for the November 4 election. Gov. Quinn called attention to his Republican opponent wanting to lower the minimum wage and opposing “Welcome Home Illinois,” a loan program that helps first time home owners with down payments, receiving interest rates as low as 3.75 percent on a 30-year mortgage.

Preckwinkle made the nomination for Berrios to be re-elected. She noted that "under the leadership of Joe Berrios, for the first time, African-Americans, Latinos and women have had a real opportunity for leadership in the party and have had a real opportunity to be slated by the party. The party has gone through rapid modernization under Joe’s leadership. We are slating qualified and diverse candidates, resulting in huge progressive victories.”

In the March 18 Democratic Primary, the party participated in 28 countywide races, winning all but three. The Cook County Democratic Party is made up of 50 Chicago Ward and 30 Township Committeemen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Unslated Candidates

The following e-mail was sent to the 80 committeemen of the Cook County Democratic Party in response to misleading mail sent by our opponents:

A mail piece was delivered throughout the county touting a number of candidates who are challenging our Democratic Party slate. This mail piece was deliberately deceptive. It made use of a logo and design similar to the one the Cook County Democratic Party has used in the past. It misleadingly claimed the candidates on it were "ENDORSED BY DEMOCRATS OF COOK COUNTY". The piece was clearly designed to confuse Democratic voters. Every Committeeman should be outraged by this underhanded tactic. Old-time, machine-style dirty tricks have no place in modern campaigns. 

No committeeman should promote or assist in any way a candidate who was not endorsed in due form at our slating session last August. The party will be collecting election day materials from all over the county and it is completely within the by-laws of the party to legally sanction any ward or township that works against a slated candidate. 

We are imploring all 80 of our committeemen to stand united with our endorsed candidates. If we do not, the party endorsement will be meaningless and our future candidates will suffer. We were all united at slating when we assembled this ticket and we must remain united this last week. United we are strong and united we will win. 

Chairman Joseph Berrios
Executive Vice-Chair Toni Preckwinkle
Executive Vice-Chair Lou Lang

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cook County Democratic Party Slates Candidates for 2014

The Cook County Democratic Party endorsed Gov. Patrick Quinn for re-election and a full slate of candidates for the March Primary. In addition to Gov. Quinn, the County Democratic Party endorsed U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, Secretary of State Jesse White and Attorney General Lisa Madigan for re-election. The Party also endorsed Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon for Comptroller and State Sen. Mike Frerichs for Treasurer. For county-wide offices the party endorsed President of the Cook County Board Toni Preckwinkle, Sheriff Thomas Dart, Assessor Joseph Berrios, Treasurer Maria Pappas and Clerk David Orr for re-election.

“This is an open process we’ve set up,” said Berrios, chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party. “The committeemen have done a great job choosing who they’ll support. The party will continue to be strong and we’ll stick together with the endorsed Democratic ticket.”

For commissioner to the Metropolitan Water and Reclamation District the party endorsed Frank Avila, Tim Bradford and Josina Morita, the first Asian-American ever slated County-wide. Board of Review 3 District Commissioner Larry Rogers Jr. was endorsed for re-election. 

For the Appellate Court, the party slated David Ellis, Freddrenna Lyle and John Simon.  Alternates were John Kirby, Sheldon Harris, Raul Vega and William Boyd.

At the Circuit Court level the party slated Andrea Buford, Cynthia Cobbs, Dan Kubasiak, Maritza Martinez, Kate Moreland, Bill Raines, Kristal Rivers, Diana Rosario, Patricia O’Brien Sheahan and Al Swanson. The alternates were Thomas Carroll, Alfred Maldonado, Travis Richardson and Sean Chaudhuri.

Cook County committeemen also endorsed the Freedom to Marry plank from the DNC and Illinois Party Platform which supports “the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities and protections under the law.” 

In short, we have the most regionally and ethnically diverse slate of judges we have ever run. For the first time ever we adopted a policy position. The party now officially stands for marriage equality. This was an historic day. The progress we saw at today's slating of the Cook County Democratic Party is directly attributable to the leadership of our Chairman, Joe Berrios. As Toni Preckwinkle said, "When Joe came in, for the first time, African-Americans, Latinos, women had a real opportunity for leadership in the party and had a real opportunity to be slated by the party." Every year our slate looks more like our great county. I am a proud Democrat.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cook County Democratic Party elects officers for new term

Berrios re-elected chairman; Preckwinkle elected as new officer

The Cook County Democratic Party on Wednesday elected its officers for the 2012-2014 term during its annual meeting at the Allegro Hotel.

The Party’s 80 committeemen, including 12 who were seated for the first time, unanimously re-elected Chairman Joseph Berrios to his third term as its leader. Berrios was named interim chairman in 2007, and elected to his first term in 2008. He is committeeman of the 31st Ward.

“It’s an honor for me to be re-elected during such a critical time,” Berrios said. “Now, more than ever, it’s important for our voices to be heard.”

The Democratic Party showed its strength earlier this year when 24 of 27 of its slated candidates were victorious in the March primary election for offices including: Illinois Supreme Court; Illinois Appellate Court; Cook County Circuit Court; Cook County State’s Attorney; Cook County Recorder of Deeds; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District; Cook County Board of Review.

“Now we move forward to the November elections when we will concentrate on getting our slated candidates elected, and also on getting President Barack Obama elected for a second term.”

Toni Preckwinkle -- committeeman of the 4th Ward -- was elected to her first term as executive vice-chairman. She shares that position with Lou Lang, committeeman from Niles.

Other officers elected on Wednesday were:

Secretary -- Robert Martwick, committeeman, Norwood Park
Treasurer -- Antonio Munoz, committeeman, 12th Ward
1st Vice Chairman -- Tim Bradford, committeeman, Rich Township
City Vice Chairman -- Carrie Austin, 34th Ward
Suburban Vice Chairman -- Don Harmon, committeeman, Oak Park
Sergeant-at-Arms -- Karen Yarborough, committeeman, Proviso Township

The newly seated committeemen were:

1st Ward -- Joseph Moreno
6th Ward -- Roderick Sawyer
15th Ward -- Raymond Lopez
24th Ward -- Michael Chandler
28th Ward -- Jason Ervin
32nd Ward -- Scott Waguespack
35th Ward -- Nancy Schiavone
36th Ward -- Nicholas Sposato
42nd Ward -- Brendan Reilly
45th Ward -- John Arena
46th Ward -- James Cappleman
47th Ward -- Peter Coffey

Friday, October 29, 2010

NBC Chicago's Edward McClelland writes the truth about Joe Berrios

A lot has been written in the press about Joe Berrios. What does the truth look like? NBC Chicago's Edward McClelland called out Forrest Claypool's witch hunt against the Democrat for what it is, "It’s a conspiracy of goo-goos, with no backing from the minority community." I am a "goo-goo" and I have seen through this shallow sham since day one. McClelland sums it up nicely: "I just don’t believe that Claypool is as virtuous as he claims, or that Berrios is as corrupt."

Read it:

I’ll tell you how I voted in this fall’s elections, and why...

Cook County Assessor: Joe Berrios
Berrios actually wants to be Cook County Assessor. He wants it so badly he has spent 22 years preparing himself as a member of the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals. Maybe I’m cynical, but it’s hard to remain a virgin in politics that long. The Better Government Association and Chicago magazine reported that Berrios accepted campaign contributions from lawyers who did business with the board, but politicians take money from lobbyists all the time. And the BGA was unable to pin anything illegal on Berrios.

I voted for Forrest Claypool when he ran for Cook County Board President in 2006, because I thought John Stroger was petrifying into a political boss. But I am mystified by his dilettantish campaign for assessor. Earlier this year, Claypool suddenly decided that the fate of honest government in Illinois depended on keeping Berrios out of the assessor’s office. Claypool’s allies in the news media and the Lakefront Liberal establishment have gone along, even questioning Toni Preckwinkle’s progressive credentials because she supports Berrios, a fellow Democratic nominee. It’s a conspiracy of goo-goos, with no backing from the minority community -- not a healthy coalition for winning countywide office.

I just don’t believe that Claypool is as virtuous as he claims, or that Berrios is as corrupt.

Read it all:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Help the Democrats against the Billionaires

With just 17 days left to go until Election Day, campaigns against our Democratic candidates in Cook County are really heating up. I want to bring one example to your attention. Once again, Forrest Claypool is complaining about being unable to raise funds to bankroll his candidacy for Cook County Assessor.

Who is he kidding? Claypool has been taking $100,000 checks ever since he started running.

This plea for funds is coming from a candidate who failed to cast a ballot in the primary because he was too busy, yet expects people to vote for him. Claypool is asking for small donations so that he doesn’t have to report them immediately to the Illinois Board of Elections.

This plea for funds is coming from a former Democrat who gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from his billionaire friends – people who want tax breaks on their mansions, vacation homes and even parking spaces.

This plea for funds is coming from an elitist who states publicly that he will pay little to no attention to the minority and less-wealthy communities in Cook County during this campaign. A recent Sun-Times columnist said Claypool is on the verge of “political extinction” because if he loses, he will be out of work.

Meanwhile, Joe Berrios is working tirelessly; not only at his job as a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Review, but on the campaign trail throughout Chicago and its suburbs. He is listening to property owners’ concerns and is promising to treat them fairly once elected, as he has done in the past.

Joe Berrios grew up in public housing at Cabrini-Green. He does not own a yacht or a mansion. And he doesn’t have billionaire friends to bankroll his campaign. Joe Berrios wants to serve the people of Cook County for the right reasons. Unlike Claypool, he has a plan to improve the Assessor’s office and treat property owners with the respect they deserve.

There is only one candidate who has the experience to be our next Cook County Assessor, and that’s Joe Berrios. To contribute to Joe’s campaign, visit

If you can’t contribute, you can help get Joe Berrios and other Democrats elected by voting early or on Nov. 2nd. For a list of early voting sites, visit or

Scott Cisek
Political Director
Cook County Democratic Party

Friday, May 14, 2010

Yesterday, I submitted an op-ed piece to the Chicago Tribune in response to its "Stroger-Berrios" editorial. Editor Bruce Dold responded that the newspaper did not “run campaign pieces on the commentary page.” but that he’d be willing to consider running a letter to the editor. If you read the original editorial that ran, it was nothing more than a campaign piece. Below is my op-ed:

Forrest Claypool – an independent candidate for Cook County assessor, not board president, lieutenant governor, commissioner, or dog catcher – has clearly been making the rounds. He was recently seen at Manny’s Deli with a TV crew behind him. A newspaper columnist twice in a week encouraged people to sign his petitions.

This smacks of fear of looking like he can’t get the job done.

Mr. Claypool is desperate to appear credible. Once considered a reformer, his star has fallen as of late. Four years ago, he proclaimed that fixing the woes on the County Board was his only focus. Yet, after another term of doing almost nothing, he opted against running for Board President, choosing instead to enter the world of private health care. He couldn’t even find the time to lend support to reform-minded candidates like Toni Preckwinkle.

Now, Mr. Claypool is again trying to appear credible, but he can’t do it unless he gets the 25,000 signatures needed to run for the Assessor’s job.

Columnists and the Tribune editorial board fawn over this man. But it’s time that they wake up, see through the trees and take a hard look at the real Forrest, a former Democrat in Cook County:

  • Mr. Claypool has said the low voter turnout during the February 2nd election encouraged him to run for the assessor’s office.

    What he failed to mention was that he did not take advantage of his fundamental right to vote. That’s right, Mr. Claypool, an alleged Democrat, failed to cast a ballot because according to his campaign manager, the day got away from him. Never mind that he had nearly three weeks prior during the Early Voting period, or that he could have voted a no-fault absentee ballot.

  • He has also failed taxpayers horribly. On the back of his petition clipboards, Mr. Claypool asks voters to sign their name if they’re tired of paying higher property taxes. Again, he fails to tell the entire truth. He doesn’t care about taxpayers.

    Example 1: The Sun-Times reported on May 13th that Mr. Claypool recently promoted a staffer, raising her pay by $20,000 – despite a Board-imposed pay freeze. Another staffer got a $4,000 raise. The Tribune ran a similar story but omitted this same information about Mr. Claypool.

    His position on across-the-board cuts is inconsistent at best. He supported a two percent cut in 2004, yet in 2007 he opposed across-the-board cuts, claiming “It takes no thought whatsoever to cut across the board. Real leadership demands that you set priorities.”

    Apparently that means handing out $20,000 pay increases during the nation’s worst economic crisis – similar to President Todd Stroger’s way of thinking.

    Example 2: If you get your property tax bill this year and it’s higher, you can blame Mr. Claypool. He was chief sponsor of the County’s “10/25 Ordinance” without having it fully vetted by a blue-ribbon task force. Now you, the residential taxpayers are paying the price.

    Because the “Claypool 10/25 Ordinance” wasn’t thoroughly studied, the tax burden will shift to residential taxpayers. (“Why You Might Sit Down for This Bill,” Don Haider, op-ed, Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2010)

    Rather than making sure the task force received all of its needed information, Mr. Claypool rammed the 10/25 Ordinance through the County Board.

    So when you get your tax bill and it’s higher, remember that paper comes from trees – and your increase comes from Forrest.

    Scott Cisek

    Political Director, Cook County Democratic Party