2024 Electoral Update: Cook County State’s Attorney Race in Illinois

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Amidst the larger noise around the upcoming presidential election, it’s easy to forget that 2024 will also bring a myriad of smaller races. These remain a cornerstone of American grassroots democracy – and in many cases, they can have a far larger impact on everyday operations.

This is why the upcoming municipal election in Cook County, Illinois, is worth keeping an eye on.

What is At Stake In This Illinois Election?

Although every State will hold local elections this year, Illinois has quickly positioned itself as one to watch out for, especially regarding law enforcement. The past couple of years have seen Illinois take on major legislative initiatives, although the impact is yet to be decided.

For National Police Support Fund and our supporters, criminal justice reform is the most eye-catching issue of them all. Illinois recently became the first state to do away with the cash bail system, and the State’s legislature is also preparing a series of regulations that will alter how police officers are allowed to operate.

As many new laws are still being defined, whoever holds the reins next will have a chance to mitigate or maximize their impact. Cook County houses the City of Chicago and is home to over 5 million people, making its next State’s Attorney a particularly influential figure.

Who’s Running for Cook County State’s Attorney in Illinois?

For the primaries, two Democrat candidates have already risen in the polls for Cook County State’s Attorney. They are the most likely to make it to the final ticket, where they will likely face Republican Bob Fioretti.

Cook County State’s Attorney Race in Illinois

Eileen O’Neill Burke for Cook County State’s Attorney (D)

Eileen O’Neill is a retired judge with over 10 years of experience at Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

Among her key concerns, she lists the task of getting unregistered guns off Chicago’s streets. But her approach to crime is not always that of “tough love.” Notably, she wishes to change the way the police handle drug-related crime, with a stronger emphasis on restorative justice and more funding for treating addiction as a mental illness.

Clayton Harris III for Cook County State’s Attorney (D)

An aerospace technology specialist and lawyer, Clayton Harris is an experienced prosecutor and public policy expert. He has previously served as Chief of Staff for the state Department of Transportation and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Governor’s office. All these posts spell out the profile of an experienced administrator – but what about his positions?

Harris’s reputation has been built on his scholarly knowledge of the law. He supports strong procedural regulations, and in one of his landmark cases, Harris defended an 11-year-old boy who was interrogated without the presence of his parents or a lawyer.

He also expresses support for a “strong, law-based approach to crime” and lists the rise in carjackings and robberies as one of his key concerns. At the same time, he has publicly endorsed the need for stronger prosecutorial teams and zero tolerance against domestic violence.

Bob Fioretti for Cook County State’s Attorney (R)

Already a member of the Chicago City Council, Fioretti is an attorney and adjunct professor. During his previous posts, he has prioritized educational and community development initiatives. He also serves on several local charitable boards and committees.

Privately, most of his efforts are geared towards job creation – an essential engine to make the city prosper. In matters of public policy, he has expressed strong support for law enforcement officers and has even been endorsed by his local Fraternal Order of Police.

It’s Time to Show Up for Police in Cook County and the Chicago Area

Each candidate listed here has a slightly different approach to police reform, criminal justice, and public safety. And yet, all three agree on one essential fact: police officers in Chicago require more support, better staffing, and more amicable working conditions to succeed.

Whether they will deliver on this promise and how they choose to go about it remains to be seen. It will be up to citizens to remain vigilant and to hold the future States Attorney accountable for this task – and this starts by showing up to the polls.

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