Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Key races to watch for in Evanston as March 19 primaries approach

Daily file illustration by Lillian Ali
Four candidates are running to fill incumbent Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s seat in the March 19 primaries.

The political landscape is heating up in the second largest county in the nation as the March 19 primaries approach. Early voting commenced Wednesday in suburban Cook County, so here are some key races to watch for.

Cook County State’s Attorney 

Last year, the incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced she would not seek re-election. Four candidates are now running to fill her seat in one of the most crucial races in the primary.

University of Chicago Prof. and former prosecutor Clayton Harris III is endorsed by the county Democratic Party for the race. His campaign is focused on tackling gun violence and increasing communication between the attorney’s office and police departments across the county.

Running against him in the primary is former Illinois Appellate Court Judge Eileen O’Neill Burke, who pledged to address the root causes of crime and “rebuild” the attorney’s office.

Although both promise to find solutions to the high crime rates in the county, their approaches are slightly different. Burke portrays herself as a tough-on-crime attorney, telling WBEZ Chicago in an interview that “enforcing the law will deter criminals.”

Harris has emphasized safety and justice as mutually inclusive in his campaign. 

“Safety and justice are not an ‘either-or’ proposition,” Harris said at the Democratic Party of Evanston’s “get out the vote” rally Sunday. “Safety and justice are an ‘and’ proposition. We do not have to sacrifice one for the other.” 

The two Democratic candidates’ philosophical difference is the most visible in their platform on combating retail theft. Harris has said he will continue with a highly criticized policy instituted by Foxx that does not prosecute retail theft as a felony unless the value of theft is above $1,000. Burke has vowed to bring that figure down to $300 in accordance with Illinois law.

Former Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Attorney Andrew Charles Kopinski is running as the sole Libertarian candidate. 

Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Incumbent Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Iris Martinez faces challenger Mariyana Spyropoulos, the current metropolitan water reclamation district commissioner, for the position.

Although Martinez has won in the past without major backing from the Democratic Party, Spyropoulos may prove a tough challenge. She recently loaned her own campaign $875,000, 18 times that of what Martinez had in December, according to WBEZ Chicago. Spyropoulos has also been endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party.

Attorney Lupe Aguirre is running as a Republican and Michael Murphy is running as a Libertarian.

Illinois Supreme Court Judge

In the only contested Illinois Supreme Court race, incumbent Justice Joy Cunningham, who has the Democratic Party’s endorsement, is running against Illinois Appellate Judge Jesse Reyes in the Democratic primary.

Although Democrats currently hold a 5-2 majority in the court and are likely to maintain it, the race has raised questions of representation on the state Supreme Court.

Cunningham, who is the second Black woman to serve on the court, has argued that voters should be more focused on experience rather than race. But Reyes, who is hoping to become the first Latine on the bench, said the court should be reflective of the various communities in the state, especially since the Latine community now makes up over a quarter of Cook County’s population.

​​“I bring a lived experience, I bring a different voice, a different perspective,” Reyes said at a Union League Club of Chicago forum in January. “And, more importantly, I bring knowledge that my opponent doesn’t have,” he said.

U.S. Representative 

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) will run unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Voters will also choose their preferred presidential candidates and the delegates who will cast votes for the presidential candidates during each party’s national convention this summer. 

Email: [email protected] 

Related Stories:

Early Cook County voting to begin Wednesday 

Illinois sees statewide push for Ranked Choice Voting 

Illinois residents cast votes in Tuesday’s primaries

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