By Nick Moroni
The Cook County Democratic Party announced last Thursday it is putting its support behind state Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-7th) in her bid for Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
Yarbrough has talked about running for the office in the 2012 race for months, and has said on several occasions that she hoped to be slated by the county. Her wish was fulfilled when the party unanimously named her as its candidate for the office in the upcoming race, according to a press release from her office.
"They really like my ideas," Yarbrough said.
She has been reaching out to the party since May. Members who didn't already know her from her work in state and local politics have "gotten a chance to know me and my work ethic."
Yarbrough's ideas include creating a fraud unit and making it easier to search for records — the current recorder's website, she says, is notoriously cumbersome.
Yarbrough added that her ideas for the fraud unit might require the passage of legislation.
"I know my way around Springfield ... and I've already had some conversations," Yarbrough said.
She also said she'd like to gather a group of lawyers, titleholders and any persons who frequently use the recorder's office and gather input on how improvements can be made.
"That office pretty much records," Yarbrough said. "It needs to do more than that."
Yarbrough's slating by county Democrats follows a recent suggestion by committee member and Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) that the recorder of deeds and the Cook County Clerk's offices be merged.
"Karen and I served together," said Fritchey, referring to the Illinois House. "I have ... respect for her abilities."
"I left a job that I love in the legislature ... to do some things to make Cook County government run more transparently and efficiently," he said.
He said the board could pass a resolution at its next meeting that would leave the decision up to county voters through a referendum on the November 2012 ballot.
"I want to directly give Cook County taxpayers the decision to determine how best to use their tax dollars," Fritchey said.
Yarbrough didn't appear to support the proposal to merge the offices.
"I have not talked with [Fritchey] about it," Yarbrough said. "I don't really know if he knows the real importance of that office."
"I'm open to the idea of looking at it if there are efficiencies," she added. "I don't think abolishing the office is the thing to do."
For months, Yarbrough has been saying that she wanted to be slated by the Cook County Democrats. Her backing comes after current Recorder Eugene Moore announced he was retiring. It is not clear if that influenced the party's decision to back Yarbrough. A call to the Cook County Democratic Party went unreturned.
But Yarbrough said Moore's retirement had nothing to do with the party's decision.
"Some committeemen didn't even know who held the seat and felt that I'd be a better fit for the job," she said.
Yarbrough's quest for recorder opens up the race for the 7th District House seat she'll be leaving behind.
Several have expressed interest in the seat, including Forest Park Commissioner Rory Hoskins, who said he would only run if Yarbrough bowed out.
"It's her seat," Hoskins said at a fundraiser back in August.
Yarbrough is not the only one interested in the recorder's seat. Darlena Williams-Burnett, Eugene Moore's chief deputy, is also reportedly considering a run.
Chris Welch, president of the Proviso High School District 209 Board of Education, has expressed interest in running for Yarbrough's 7th District seat. He ran unsuccessfully against her in the 2006 primary.
Next up, Yarbrough needs to get the necessary signatures to get on the March primary ballot.
"I really appreciate the outpouring of support from all parts of Cook County," she said. "I'll be in a neighborhood near you, asking people to sign my petitions."
"I got my work cut out for me."