Newsletter - January 2024

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Newsletter Highlights

Opportunities to participate in our democracy-- Volunteer to be an Election Judge and to Observe Cook County Governments

An Election Year--Request your vote by mail application, 16 & 17 year olds can pre-register to vote

The Cook County Forest Preserve is part of the Underground Railroad Story

  Heed the call to help make our election system work

Volunteer to be an Election Judge

Tuesday March 19 ·    


       To work at a Suburban Cook County polling place, go to Clerk's


    To work at a Chicago polling place, go to the Board of Elections'



Voting News

See the Cook County and MWRD candidates for the Primary election on this updated list .  


You can now request a vote-by-mail ballot from your election authority

Deadline to apply is 5 days prior to the March 19 Primary, but don’t wait till then if you want to make sure you receive your ballot in time. Ballots should start to be mailed out on Feb. 8. No need to apply again if you already signed up to be on the permanent vote-by-mail list.


Photo by C, Schilsky

 Cook County suburban registered voters should go to the Clerk's Website 

Photo by Trace Hudson

Chicago registered voters should go to the Board of Elections' Website

Voting registration options for young people.

A new law in Illinois allows 16 and 17 years old to pre-register to vote. For more detail and to pre-register, go to the Illinois State Board of Elections Website.

If a person will be 18 by Election Day, (11/52024) they can register to vote in the Primary.

Cook County Forest Preserve News

Photo by Pixabay

Special Forest Preserve Event

Speaker: Dr. Larry McClellan

Topic: Freedom Seekers and the history of Northeastern Illinois

Monday February 26 11 AM via Zoom

Register at

The history of the Underground Railroad includes the Cook County Forest Preserves

Dr. Larry McClellan, historian and author, will speak on February 26th about freedom seekers and the regional history of northeastern Illinois. His research revealed that some of the paths were in the land now occupied by the Cook County Forest Preserves. Dr. McClellan is the author of “Onward to Chicago: Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad in Northeastern Illinois”, which received the 2023 Memorial Prize for the Advancement of Knowledge from the Underground Railroad Free Press. This event will be limited to 100 people, but will be recorded. 

Changes in Administration

After 13 years as the Cook County Forest Preserve General Superintendent, Arnold Randall is stepping down. Under Superintendent Randall’s leadership, the Forest Preserve District created the Next Century Conservation Plan and became a more transparent and accountable government agency. Strategic plans were developed for recreation, trails, and habitat restoration while building partnerships and creating an independent advisory Conservation and Policy Council. Deputy General Superintendent Eileen Figel will serve as the interim General Superintendent.

LWVCC Interest Groups report on important news in Cook County Government

We Need Your Help!

Become an Observer

One of the more important activities of the Cook County League is to observe and report on the meetings of the county-wide governments. Most of these meetings are not covered by the press. But the elected officials know the League is watching and reporting! We know that makes a difference!

In particular, there is a need for more observers for the Cook County Board Committee meetings that take place during the day on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the monthly Thursday Board meeting.

  • The committee meetings are interesting--  Cook County government handles a wide-range of issues that impact all of us. The 17 Commissioners reflect different viewpoints and interests.

  • The meetings are easily accessible:

Attend in person

Watch the live stream from home

Watch the video recording later

  • We provide focus for your observations: A League member will review all the agendas and provide a list of “items of interest”.

  • We provide a mentor to help with your first observations.

Want to learn more? Email the League at, or call 312-939-5935, ext.127, and provide your name, local League, and contact info. 

Say YES to making a positive difference in 2024!

Cook County and MWRD Governments Interest Group

  • The MWRD is now hosting monthly information seminars around issues dealing with climate change, flooding, environmental justice, and other MWRD priorities.  The seminar presenters are employees of the MWRD, and the programs are held at the Stickney Plant and can be viewed virtually by signing up on the Website. The next seminar is scheduled for Friday, January 26 on Environmental Justice. 
  • The MWRD plans to introduce biogas powered electricity. Biogas is a valuable byproduct from processing sewage and is a key component of the MWRD obtaining energy neutrality.
  • You can receive an alert from the MWRD when the volume of rain will likely mean an overflow of untreated sewage into the river, and you can help by not using your dishwasher or washing machine and flushing less. Sign up Here.

Cook County Health Interest Group

  • The Public Health Department's 3rd quarter 2023 presentation focused on SDI treatments and diseases, targeting campaigns for colleges, and public relations campaigns for individuals to increase awareness and identify where to go for help. Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, HIV, and Monkey Pox are the main SID's targeted for treatment and reporting statistics. The current marketing campaign slogan is: "Don't guess, get a test". Mail back test kits are now available from CCH via their Website.

  • Also discussed was the youth tobacco seller ordinance passed in July of 2023, which consists of compliance check and required signage. Starting in the fall of 2023, CCDPH in partnership with the CC Sheriff's office started conducting random, unannounced inspections where flavored tobacco products are sold in unincorporated Cook County.

Criminal Justice Interest Group

  • The Cook County League sent a thank you letter to Professor David Olson of Loyola University's Criminal Justice Dept. for the excellent research he has been conducting on the new court procedures as a result of the Safe-T Act. "Doing Without Cash Bail in Illinois: The PFA's First Month" by David Olson et. al. Nov. 2023, can be found on the Loyola University Website.
  • The Group's February book discussion choice is This is Our Jail, a history of Cook County Jail by Melanie Newport. The discussion will be Feb 16 at 9 am via Zoom.
  • The next regular meeting will be Jan 23 at 9 am via Zoom.
  • To participate in either of these activities, please contact Jan Goldberg

LWVCC observes and reports on board and committee meetings of Cook County government entities to provide our members with an understanding of current issues. To read more: LWVCC Observer Reports

Observer Highlights

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting December 14, 2023

The Board approved the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. As of December 31, 2023, employees in Cook County can earn at least one (1) hour of paid leave for every forty (40) hours worked. This ordinance requires that all employers with employees in Cook County provide those employees with paid leave to be used for any reason.

Comm. Sean Morrison asked several questions about how violations of the ordinance would be handled. He wanted to know what happens when a complaint is filed. Complaints are handled by the Board of Human Rights and Ethics. A representative from that Board explained that the rules for how the ordinance would be handled still need to be drafted and cannot be done until the ordinance is approved. It is expected that the rules will be finalized by February and then approved by the Board of Human Rights and Ethics. Then the rules will come to the Board of Commissioners for its approval.

Comm. Miller wanted to understand the difference between the County ordinance and the legislation as approved by the State. Home Rule communities can opt out of the County ordinance but will need to be in compliance with State law. She asked that outreach is undertaken so that employers will know what they need to do to be in compliance with the new legislation.

Cook County Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners Meeting December 12, 2023 

The Board approved the collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters, Local 700, extending the term of agreement to December 31, 2025 with 2 cost of living adjustments. 

The Forest Preserve will continue collaboration with The Prairie Research Institute through 2028. The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) comprises five (5) state scientific surveys: the Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. This agreement enables the Forest Preserves to consult with and engage the technical expertise of each of these scientific institutions, based on annual tasks assigned by the Forest Preserves. Since 2014, the Forest Preserves has partnered with the PRI for the purpose of developing a Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan, a landmark document that has helped guide the allocation of resources and informed strategies to pursue and meet the ambitious goals set forth in the Forest Preserves’ Next Century Conservation Plan.

Local League Upcoming Events

Thursday, January 18, 7:00pm

LaGrange Area League

Sharone Mitchell, Public Defender's Office

SAFE-T Act Pros and Cons

Brookfield Public Library

3541 Park Ave, Brookfield

Open to the public

For more detail see the LWV LaGrange Area Website

Thursday, February 13, 9:30-11:00am via Zoom

LWV Oak Park River Forest

Tim Daly, Director, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform

Current Trends in Gun Violence, New Policies & Practices

Registration required on LWV OPRF Website

Thursday, February 15, 6:30pm

LWV Oak Park River Forest

Drinks & Dialogue Immigration Reform

Friendly's Tap 6731 Roosevelt Rd Berwyn

Open to the public. No registration required.

Save the Date

Saturday, March 9, 11:30 am

Co-sponsored by LWVs Evanston, Glenview-Glencoe, Wilmette &Winnetka-Northfield-Kenilworth 

Winnetka Congregational Church, 720 Pine, Winnetka

"Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism"--Author Brooke Kroeger (via Zoom) in Conversation with Chicago Tribune Columnist Heidi Stevens (Live)

See the LWV WNK website for registration information

2023-2024 Cook County League Board Members 

OFFICERS: President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange Area; Vice-Presidents: Pris Mims, Chicago, Kathi Graffam, LaGrange Area; Secretary: Carolyn Cosentino, Homewood/Flossmoor; Treasurer: Trudy Turner, Evanston.

Board membersLaura Davis, Palatine; Diane Edmundson, Chicago; Jan Goldberg, LaGrange Area ; Betty Hayford, Evanston; Karin Hribar, Arlington Heights; Sandra Slayton, Homewood-Flossmoor


The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, political organization whose mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government; to increase understanding of major policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to anyone regardless of gender, race, or ethnic group.


League of Women Voters of Cook County

332 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 634, Chicago, IL 60604

312-939-5935 x127