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Gainer selected to replace Quigley

This article shared 3106 times since Wed Apr 15, 2009
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The Democratic Cook County Board District Committee for the 10th District of the Cook County Board of Commissioners met Saturday, April 11, at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson, to appoint a person to fill the vacancy created by the impending departure of Mike Quigley, who has been elected to replace Rahm Emanuel as a representative in the U.S. Congress.

The committee selected Bridget Gainer, an executive at Aon Corporation and former aide to Mayor Richard Daley, as Quigley's successor. Gainer's husband, Dennis Kibby, once was a partner in Great Lakes Medicaid, which helped the county's public-health system collect bills; however, she said that he sold his interest in that company last year, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Others in the running included openly gay lawyer Jay Paul Deratany; attorney Michele Smith, who is also a 43rd Ward committeeman; Kim Walz, Quigley's chief of staff; Jim Madigan, the interim executive director of the LGBT-rights organization Equality Illinois; former city attorney Sara Ellis; Robert Block, a lawyer who has done work for the Democratic National Committee; and Michael Hickey, a county electrician.

Each candidate was asked about his or her position on the recent increase in sales tax, budget reform and political conflicts of interest—a theme that has recently plagued Cook County politics.

Gainer laid out three reasons why she was better qualified for the position saying, "I have the operations experience; the financial and budget expertise; and I bring strong progressive credentials that will faithfully represent the voters of this district."

When asked if she foresaw any conflicts of interest at Aon or in her governance as commissioner she said, "I have committed not to take contributions from people that are county contractors … you cannot in any way give the impression that you're putting your needs before those people you are serving. I don't foresee any family issue."

When asked for a comment, Madigan e-mailed to Windy City Times that "Illinois has never had an openly gay Cook County Board member, just like we haven't sent an LGBT Democrat to Congress or the State Senate. It is important that we participate in the political process because these legislative bodies decide whether our rights, relationships and families will be respected."

Deratany told Windy City Times that "if it weren't me, I certainly thought it would have been a strong reform-minded candidate like Kim Walz. If it were Kim, at least you would've felt like the process was honored." He also said that he had heard "unfortunate rumors that [ the outcome ] was predetermined." ( Tom Tunney, the 44th Ward alderman who is a member of the selection committee, responded to Windy City Times that " [ w ] e had a very open process and after heated debate chose Bridget Gainer as the replacement for Commissioner Mike Quigley." )

He also said that "I do not feel reform won today." When asked if he would consider running for the office again, he said he would but "I need to make sure the gay community is behind me." Regarding his hopes for Gainer, Deratany said, "The county government is the ninth-largest governmental body. It beats out more than 30 states in terms of budget—yet we have not requested one dime of stimulus money. We could re-invigorate our county's economy and lower our 9.2-percent unemployment rate by creating jobs—and thousands could be created by cleaning up the toxic dumps in our area, and creating wind-turbine farms and green enterprise zones, which would increase our revenue base."

Among those in the 11-member selection committee are 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, former State Sen. Carol Ronen, 46th Ward Alderman Tom Sharpe, Smith and 40th Ward Alderman Pat O'Connor.

Tunney acknowledged the rapidness of the process, but noted that the decision will ultimately be left to Illinois voters: "There was a lot of work done once the position was open to make the choice we are elected to do to make the choice to replace Mike Quigley, on behalf of the residents of the 10th District. They will have that opportunity come February in the primary to really validate that or to look for another candidate."

The tally of the committee votes was as follows: 32nd Ward-John Fritchey ( abstained-1,208 votes ) ; 39th Ward-Randy Barnette ( Gainer-3,629 votes ) ; 40th Ward-Pat O'Connor ( Gainer-5,527 votes ) ; 41st Ward-Mary O'Connor ( Gainer-210 votes ) ; 43rd Ward-Smith ( Walz-10,786 votes ) ; 44th Ward-Tunney ( Walz-12,923 votes ) ; 45th Ward-Patrick Levar ( Walz-217 votes ) ; 46th Ward-Sharpe ( Gainer-12,013 votes ) ; 48th Ward-Ronen ( Gainer-12,545 votes ) ; 49th Ward-David Fagus ( Walz-1,463 votes ) ; and 50th Ward-Ira Silverstein ( via proxy for Gainer-2,384 votes ) . The totals were 36,308 votes for Gainer and 25,385 votes for Walz, with 1,208 abstaining. The committee members' votes were weighted.

Windy City Times' video coverage of the selection proceedings is at .

This article shared 3106 times since Wed Apr 15, 2009
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