Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan is not running for re-election, and this presents an opportunity for progressives in Cook County.
Currently there are no countywide Latinos (with the exception of Frank Avila, Sr., a Commissioner of the Water Reclamation District). That's ridiculous.
The Sheriff has a chance to be a voice against the drug wars -- the huge waste of our dollars and lives to imprison people for choosing to use drugs and hurting no one but themselves in the process. Our jails are overcrowded with lots of non-violent drug users, and these people should either be in treatment or back home.
There has also been some horrible abuse of prisoners that has gone on (allegedly) over the last few decades in Cook County, and the Sheriff can be a voice for reform.
Tom Dart, a former state rep and the Chief of Staff to Sheriff Sheahan, is (in my view) a reformer. He's also (as far as I understand) well-liked my most regular Democrats who tend not to push so much for an end to the drug war or a ringing voice against the few abusive police officers who stain the profession for everyone else.
I wonder whether Dart's campaign will gather up reformers and progressives without alienating the regulars.
And the dynamics of two white reformers (Mike Quigley and Forrest Claypool) running for County Board President against a black regular (John Stroger) while the office of sheriff is open and, potentially, a black reformer of some type might run against a white regular, with Dart trying to be the candidate of all Democrats will be fascinating.
What will someone like Barack Obama do with a race like this? Could you imagine how much traction Quigley or Claypool might get in their race for President if the Barack Star endorses one of them? Remember, John Stroger endorsed Dan Hynes for U.S. Senate.
(And the really nice part about all this is that in a lot of ways, Cook County politics is not driven exclusively by race. Whites do endorse blacks over whites; blacks do endorse whites over blacks. That's social progress).
Filing deadline is December 19th and the Cook County Democratic Party leaders are meeting this week to make endorsements (or 'slating' candidates for those new to politics).
Open seats are so much more fun than re-election campaigns.