It was a notable Democratic primary last week. And Oak Park, the West Side and the long stretch of the 7th Congressional District played active parts.
Here’s our take on three key, local races:
Boykin-Johnson for the county board: Monday afternoon, 1st District Commissioner Richard Boykin finally conceded. That’s six days after a startlingly tight race left the first-term county commissioner 400+ votes behind Brandon Johnson, his union and Democratic organization-backed opponent.
Four years back we endorsed Blake Sercye, a young Toni Preckwinkle-backed contender in a wide open primary. Boykin, though, took that race and, in our opinion, carried our long irrelevant chunk of Cook County back to the table by winning county resources, being a factor in moving the county forward on health care and criminal justice. Now succeeding the near worthless Earlean Collins was bound to make a newcomer shine, but Boykin, for all his smooth ways, had a substance that made our district relevant for the first time in decades.
Johnson is a bright and capable young man who rose with the backing of County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and state Sen. Don Harmon, two people we often admire.
But in taking this seat back from an independent like Boykin, Johnson will have to prove over time that the 1st District has not been subsumed back into an improved but still suspect Democratic Party apparatus.
Davis-Clark in the 7th: There have been a lot of deserved huzzahs for Anthony Clark, the Oak Park activist and public school teacher who took on the long-seated Danny Davis as our representative in Congress.
“Just his first race,” “He’ll be back,” etc. All true we believe, and also know because Clark himself has made the same comments.
When you look at the vote totals in the suburban half of the 7th District, you begin to understand the impact that this political newcomer had in his first time up for election. He won 40 percent of the Democratic vote in the suburbs. Six years ago, another Oak Parker, Jacques Conway ran against Davis and claimed just 21 percent of the suburban vote.
More remarkable, and this speaks to the nationwide tide of enthusiasm among progressive Democrats, is the raw total vote in the suburbs. Some 34,390 people voted in this primary in the district’s suburbs. That is nearly double the number of Democrats who took a ballot in 2012.
This is a moment.
Kaegi buries Berrios: Not a surprise that Fritz Kaegi, an Oak Parker and political newcomer, dropped the hammer on Joe Berrios, the longtime Cook County Assessor and Cook County Democratic Party leader. Don’t doubt the power of substantive, sustained reporting, mainly by the Tribune, in taking the lid off the corrupt practices of the arcane Cook County property assessment system. This system is perverted to favor the wealthy and crush the poor. It is bought and sold by lawyers and political insiders, including Speaker Mike Madigan.
Here’s the thing: The better, fairer job that Fritz Kaegi does in upending and rebuilding the property tax assessment system in this county, the more financial pain he will cause the well-off who voted him in — and that includes a lot of good-government Oak Parkers and River Foresters.
This is not a job for a career pol. This is a job for a clear-headed reformer determined to end this corruption and be content with the judgment of voters four years from now.