Before she was elected Cook County Board President, President Preckwinkle served 19 years as Alderman of the 4th Ward, building a reputation for progressive independence. She fought for living wages, public education and against payday lending and gun violence. Toni Preckwinkle spent 10 years teaching high school history. She credits her time in the classroom as not only preparing her for public service but helping to shape her policy priorities. She has two children and three grandchildren.
After 19 years as the Alderman of the 4th Ward, Toni Preckwinkle was elected in 2010 as Cook County Board President, the first African American woman elected to run the roughly $5 billion government of the 2nd largest County in the nation. As the top executive in Cook County, Toni oversees one of the nation’s largest public health and hospitals systems and, one of the largest criminal justice systems and the largest Forest Preserve system in the country. Toni is a lifelong advocate for equity and equality, and through her work as County Board President, has successfully expanded access to health care for 350,000 people, brought increased fairness to the criminal justice system, championed a regional economic development strategy and expanded employment opportunities the young people of Cook County.
Toni believes the greatest investment we can make is in our young people. Before she was an alderman, she was a history teacher in Chicago Public Schools. Toni’s grandchildren are Chicago Public School students.
We need to know that all of our city’s children are receiving the best education available. We need to make sure that what’s possible for some of our children, is the reality for all of our children.
Toni Preckwinkle is a nationally recognized leader in the fight for criminal justice reform. Under her leadership, Cook County reduced unnecessary and costly detention of non-violent offenders by more than 30 percent since she took office in 2010. She has been an outspoken voice in calling for accountability in the Chicago Police Department.
At the same time, she has been a vocal advocate for juvenile justice reform, reducing the number of children tried as adults and the population in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.
Under Toni’s leadership, Cook County is for the first time playing a real role in the economy. She created the first regional economic development collaboration, bringing together private and public leadership, including the City of Chicago and surrounding counties. Toni lead successful efforts include streamlining the antiquated truck permitting system, helping small and medium size businesses export and partnering with the Brookings Institution to attract and leverage Foreign Direct Investment in the region.
Toni has been a passionate advocate for fair and affordable housing for all Chicagoans. 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.
"We have a unique responsibility to reduce in-equality for residents who are marginalized... We are up for the challenge."
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