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Public Service

Toni’s history of public service, fighting for change and serving our community as a teacher, Alderman and Cook County Board President, gives her a unique understanding of the issues and challenges that our region faces. 

PROGRESSIVE LEADER

Toni Preckwinkle is a proven leader who is paving the way for the progressive movement.  

  • Toni was a co-founder of the Progressive Caucus within the City Council. 
  • In 2006, Toni was one of the lead sponsors for the Big Box Ordinance at the city council, requiring big box companies to pay their workers a fair and living wage.
  • In 2008, Toni was one of only five Alderman to vote against the parking meter deal that has robbed the City of millions of dollars in revenue.
  • In 2015 Toni took steps to unseat incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. She served as a top surrogate and campaigned tirelessly across Cook County for Kim Foxx. Toni’s hard work led to Kim’s historic victory as the first African-American elected to the position.
  • As Executive Vice Chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, Toni diversified the slate of candidates endorsed by the party. As a leader in the party, 64% more people of color were endorsed for countywide office, over twice as many women were endorsed for countywide office, 72% more minorities were elected to countywide office as endorsed candidates under the past four election cycles, and over twice as many women were elected to countywide office as endorsed candidates.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Toni Preckwinkle has been a national leader in justice reform, reducing the county jail population, reforming juvenile court, and saving taxpayers’ money.

  • Before Toni became President, the Cook County Jail detained over 10,000 people every day, the overwhelming majority for pre-trial detention (and mostly for nonviolent offenses). As a result of her efforts, the jail population has declined by over 30% since she took office.
  • Toni has developed and advocated for legislation that has substantially changed the juvenile justice system, including: raising the age limit for the juvenile justice system, restoring judicial discretion in the automatic transfer of juveniles into the adult system, limiting probation for juveniles and expanding the automatic expungement of juvenile records. This has resulted in a 45% reduction in the juvenile detainee population.4
  • As a result of the historic jail population reduction, Cook County demolished underutilized buildings at the jail, leading to savings of $3 million in operating costs for FY2017 and $188 million in capital costs over the next decade.
  • In addition to her policy and legislative reforms, Toni will have invested $19.2M in community-based grants by 2020. These grants support anti-violence and public safety, recidivism and restorative justice initiatives throughout Cook County. 
  • Throughout her administration, Toni has called for greater police accountability, training and the protection of our residents 4th Amendment rights. When many other leaders remained silent, Toni advocated for the 2015 ACLU’s reform of the practice of investigatory street stops, “stop and frisks” which was proven to have a disproportionate impact on black and brown communities while not increasing public safety. 
  • She also supported the 2016-2017 Department of Justice investigation of the Chicago Police Department and the consent decree currently being finalized.

EDUCATION

As a former teacher, Toni knows the best investment we can make is in our students. Toni Preckwinkle will reinvest in Chicago Public Schools, ensuring that every child has access to a high quality education in their local, neighborhood school. Great schools will help revive our city, attracting new residents and growing our population and economy in every neighborhood. Not enough of our city’s children are receiving a high quality education. Chicago must ensure that what’s possible for some of our children is the reality for all of Chicago’s children. 

  • Toni has committed to a fully elected school board to give families a voice in how our children are being educated. 
  • It is essential that an elected school board be structured in a way that lessens the influence of special interests and outside money.  The board must both reflect the diverse fabric of the city and ensure that communities have an opportunity to elect a representative that can adequately represent their needs.
  • Toni believes that it’s not enough to promise a temporary moratorium on school closings - we need to secure a long-term funding resource to help us make real investments in the schools that have been chronically underfunded. 
  • Toni believes we need to bring communities together with public and private partners to repurpose previously closed schools to address other community needs like recreational space, youth enrichment, and senior services.
  • Without additional revenue, Illinois will be unable to live up its commitment to Chicago’s students. That’s why Toni supports a tax reform package that includes real progressive revenue, including dedicating yearly TIF surplus specifically to public schools.  
  • Toni believes it is time to stop the expansion and focus our efforts on improving oversight and ensuring that all our schools treat families, students and teachers with respect. Toni will fight for the adoption of a fully elected representative school board and support a freeze on any new charters until that new board is elected.
  • Toni supports the expansion of the Sustainable Community Schools program that gives communities the opportunity to collaborate on programs to meet specific community and student challenges and create safe spaces within schools. It’s not just enough to fund positions - our city must ensure consistency of care and quality wrap around services.

HEALTHCARE

As Cook County President, Toni Preckwinkle has led a massive reduction of uninsured through the CountyCare program and expanded health services for the under-served and uninsured.   

  • In 2016, our Health & Hospital system saw historically high levels of insured patients: Medicaid expansion, through the Affordable Care Act, covered approximately 480,000 residents.
  • Thanks to CountyCare, the County’s local Medicaid expansion, for the first time in its history, the Cook County Health and Hospital System has more insured patients than uninsured. The population has declined from 56% in 2012 to approximately 33% in 2016.
  • In 2016, the Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance that allows uninsured Cook County residents earning under $48,000 as well as undocumented immigrants to see primary care physicians within the Cook County Health & Hospital System – the program is expected to help nearly 40,000 people in 2017.
  • In 2014, for the first time in the county’s history, Cook County served more insured people than uninsured people with a total of 140,000 people in the CountyCare program.

EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT

As Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle has balanced the budget, addressed historic debt and made County government more effective and efficient. 

  • Since taking office in December 2010, Toni has closed $2.1 billion dollars in budget gaps and cut expenditures by more than $850 million dollars.
  • The 2019 Cook County budget includes no fee increases, no new fines, no new taxes, and no reductions in services. 
  • Under Toni’s leadership, Cook County’s bond rating has improved, reducing costs to the taxpayers. 

JOBS AND FAMILIES

Toni Preckwinkle has fought her entire public service career for higher wages, family leave, equal pay, and revitalized neighborhoods.

  • In 2016, the Cook County board enacted the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance taking effect July 1, 2017 which allows employees one hour of earned sick leave for over 40 hours worked.
  • In 2016, the board approved an ordinance that will raise the county’s minimum wage to $13 by 2020, affecting employees in the suburbs and unincorporated areas. 
  • In 2013, Cook County launched a City/County reciprocal certification program to make it easier for Minority- and Women-Owned Business to be certified to work with both governments. 
  • In 2013, Cook County received HUD approval of a $30 million loan fund to help guarantee the retention of jobs in priority development areas.
  • As an Alderman, Toni sponsored several living wage bills, including measures that passed in 1998, 2002 and an unsuccessful 2006 push that ultimately led to Mayor Daley using his veto for the first time. 
  • Toni co-sponsored the Affordable Housing ordinances (in 1993 and 1998) that resulted in a 50% increase in spending on low and moderate-income housing. 
  • As Alderman, she oversaw the construction or rehabilitation of over 1,500 affordable housing units in her ward. 

LGBT RIGHTS

  • Toni has publicly supported and advocated for marriage equality, including endorsing the state’s 2013 Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

MINIMUM WAGE 

  • Toni has proposed an extension of the city’s minimum wage law with 50 cents increases every six months until the wage reaches $15 an hour. That will take the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour no later than July 2021 and possibly earlier when the COLA is factored in.
  • She also proposed that once the minimum wage reaches $15 an hour, the Office of Labor Standards at the City of Chicago conduct an annual review of the city’s minimum wage to monitor economic conditions and living standards and to propose further increases to the minimum wage as warranted.

CIVIL RIGHTS

Toni Preckwinkle has stood up for progressive values throughout her career, from advocating for gender and LGBTQI equality to opposing the unjust war on drugs.

  • Toni understands the ramifications that marijuana criminalization has on families and citizens.  She has stated her support for legislation both decriminalizing and legalizing the personal use of marijuana in Illinois.  It no longer makes sense to promote antiquated drug policies that disproportionately affect communities of color at a high cost to taxpayers.
  • After the City released the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder, Toni publicly called for the termination of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
  • Starting in 2012, under Toni’s leadership, Cook County no longer detains individuals on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.).