The Observer
News from the League of Women Voters
of Cook County

November 2020

Cook County Election Results
Preliminary election results in suburban Cook County show the total number of registered voters was about 1.6 million and the voter turnout, over one million. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners reported over 1.5 million registered voters and 1.1 million votes cast.

Voters for two Cook County offices in the criminal court system reelected one candidate and elected another. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was reelected for a second term. Newcomer Iris Martinez, a former State Legislator, was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court. Three commissioners on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District were re-elected: Eira L. Corral Sepulveda, Kimberly Neely Dubuclet and M. Cameron 'Cam' Davis. In the close race for the Cook County Board of Review (1st District), results are pending.
The Fair Tax Amendment, which the League supported, did not pass. The amendment would have changed Illinois’s flat income tax to a graduated income tax. Statewide, just 45% of voters who responded to the ballot question voted for the change. In suburban Cook County, 53% voted for the measure, and in Chicago, 71% voted in favor of the Amendment.

For additional election results, visit (Suburban Cook County) and (Chicago).

Congratulations to the Chicago Board of Election and the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County for their tremendous efforts in pulling together a successful election with seemingly few complications. Bravo!
A Vote of Confidence

Nancy Marcus: 'Every Voter Should Be an Educated Voter'
Education has been a driving force in Nancy Marcus’s life. An Early Childhood Education teacher, she spent years teaching kids in the Chicago Public Schools and later, at a school on the North Shore.
Today, she educates adults. As the LWVCC Voter Service chair, Nancy works to ensure that Cook County voters have access to information about the voting process, the candidates, and any measures on the ballot up for a vote. Prior to the General Election, she and her committee worked on several projects, including the WTTW Video Voter Guide, ABC7’s State’s Attorney debate and a Town Hall meeting featuring Cook County Clerk Karen Yarborough. An aggressive information campaign capped off their endeavor.
“I always felt that voter service was important,” she says. “There are always glitches, but overall, I thought we did a good job and that the election went smoothly.”
A long-time member of the Winnetka league who served as its president for two years, she has held numerous other League posts, including president of the State League. She and her husband spend winters at their condo in Palm Beach where they are looking forward to a reduction in traffic disruption caused by frequent visits from government leadership.
For further information or to get involved in Voter Service, email Nancy at

County Budget Meetings Encompass Much
More than Dollars & Cents
Cook County League members spent scores of hours Nov. 2-6 observing multiple Cook County government departmental meetings about their proposed budgets for next year. Due to the pandemic, the meetings were held virtually.
Here are a few tidbits of information the Observers gleaned and included in their reports:
  • All county offices had to adjust to working remotely. While a number of offices are open to the public (such as the Clerk’s Vital Records and Election offices), many County employees still work primarily from home, coming into the office only periodically.

  • The Assessor has adjusted a number of assessments across the County to reflect the impact of COVID-19, without the need for owners to seek such adjustments. Having completed the reassessment of the South Suburbs this year, in 2021 the Assessor will be reassessing the entire City of Chicago, which encompasses 52% of all properties within Cook County.

  • On Mondays at 11 am on WVON radio, Treasurer Maria Pappas appears in a show called “Black Homes Matter” to answer questions from homeowners and helps them find refunds and missing property tax exemptions. 

  • The Board of Review has said that it has saved school districts $110 million as a result of successfully defending the County’s property assessments in court. Had these suits been lost, school districts and all other taxing bodies would have had to refund money to those successful in their appeals.

  • County Care, the county-run managed care program for those on Medicaid, has hit an all-time high in membership this year, due in part to COVID-19 and layoffs.

  • The Land Bank is working with the MWRD in Franklin Park to acquire homes that have experienced repeated flooding and will convert this property to open space.

  • The Sheriff said that Cook County Jail is the first jail in the nation to have a polling place inside.

  • The State’s Attorney runs the second largest such office in the US. The Los Angeles County office is the largest, but it only handles felonies. Cook County handles felonies, misdemeanors, civil cases, child support cases and juvenile delinquent cases.

The next steps in the budget process are for the Commissioners to consider and vote on amendments to the proposed budget, then approve the final budget on November 24. Naturally, the League will have an observer or two on hand to report what happens.

Members who covered the meetings included Diane Edmundson, Jan Goldberg, Kathi Graffam, Karin Hribar, Amy Little, Nancy Marcus, Pris Mims and Cynthia Schilsky.

To read their reports, click here.

Step Up

Join LWVCC’s Observer Corps 

The Cook County League Observer Corps promotes transparency and accountability in government, and plays a vital role in helping improve countywide governments as well as educating voters. Participants observe the Cook County Board and committees, the Cook County Forest Preserve Board, the Cook County Health Board (CCH), and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board (MWRD). 
LWVCC observers

  • Attend governmental meetings and monitor issues being discussed as well as the process of the discussion; 
  • Write reports after each meeting which are posted at and shared on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information or to volunteer as an Observer, contact Diane Edmundson at or Carolyn Cosentino at
Lights, Camera, Channel 11!
The PBS "Independent Lens" award-winning series, which airs weekly on WTTW/channel 11, has been likened to “an independent film festival in your living room.” Each episode introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent filmmakers who are taking creative risks and finding untold stories to share.

A recent episode focused on women running for public office. Karin Hribar, LWVCC co-vice president, was included in an episode where she moderated a candidate forum for the race of one of the featured women.

NOTE: The film is available for viewing until November 25, 2020. Visit

Criminal Justice Update

Jan Goldberg and Karin Hribar (at right), co-chairs of the Cook County league’s Criminal Justice Interest Group, report that a backlog of Cook County criminal cases is negatively impacting Cook County Jail and Bond Court.
At a recent Cook County government budget hearing, LWVCC Observers noted that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart advocated for GPS monitoring to replace Electronic Monitoring as a way to relieve jail overcrowding.

Jan and Karin said they received an email from David Navarro, a Bond Court Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, who wrote about the challenge of court delays throughout the system due to the pandemic. In addition to conducting bond court hearings on Zoom during the week, the judge said he conducts hearings in person on the weekends.
If you’re interested in working with LWVCC’s Criminal Justice Interest Group, contact Jan at

Recent LWVCC Advocacy Actions
Cook County Health
The League of Women Voters of Cook County and the Civic Federation collaborated on a letter to the Cook County Health Board and its interim CEO to continue broadcasting health system meetings on the Internet after the current COVID-19 emergency ends. To expand public access to its deliberations, the partner organizations also called on the Board to begin posting recordings of completed meetings at a convenient online location. This joint request reiterates separate recommendations on live streaming made by the LWVCC and the Civic Federation beginning back in January 2018.
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
After persistent cajoling by Commissioner Davis with his board colleagues and President Steele, the MWRD changed its roll-call practices for virtual meetings.They now require a roll-call vote on any items removed from the Agenda for discussion. All other Agenda items may be a bundled in a roll-call vote. This is a result of our previous requests for streamlining the virtual board meetings.
Clerk’s Office Consolidation
A letter was sent to the Finance Committee of the Cook County Board, providing observations and questions regarding the Clerk's proposed 2021 budget in light of the Final Plan for assuming the duties of the Recorder of Deeds. The League asked the Commissioners to follow-up during their November 6 meeting on the Clerk's budget. 

For other advocacy actions, visit and click on “About/LWVCC Action and Testimony.”

Local League Events

Wednesday, December 2, 7 pm via Zoom
"State of the City" Centennial Celebration
Featuring Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Presented by the League of Women Voters of Chicago

Tickets will soon be available. For more information, send an email to

Tuesday, December 8, 7 pm via Zoom
“Issues of Criminal Justice Reform”
Presented by the League of Women Voters of Evanston

Speaker: Benjamin G. Ruddell, Director of Criminal Justice Policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU). Click here to register:
Happy Thanksgiving
to All!

As we head into the holidays, take time to sit back and chill, enjoy family and friends (even if it's on Zoom) and celebrate another year in which Democracy prevailed. Stay home if you can, stay small (even if you think you can’t), and stay traditional (roast turkey) – or go rogue (have a hamburger). Above all, stay safe.

2020-2021 Cook County League Board Members 

OFFICERS: President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange Area; Vice-presidents: Jan Goldberg, LaGrange Area and Karin Hribar Arlington Heights; Secretary: Betty Hayford, Evanston; Treasurer: Nancy Clark, Oak Park/River Forest.

BOARD MEMBERS: Carolyn Cosentino, Homewood/Flossmoor; Melanie King, Homewood/Flossmoor, Laura Davis, Palatine; Diane Edmundson, Park Ridge; Kathi Graffam, LaGrange Area; Peggy Kell, Oak Park/River Forest; Nancy Marcus, Winnetka/Northfield/ Kenilworth; Priscilla Mims, Chicago; Chris Ruys, Chicago; Mary Anne Benden, Arlington Heights; Michelle Niccolai, LaGrange Area; Ann Bolan, Oak Park-River Forest; Kim Inman, Palatine; Georgia Gebhardt, Wilmette; Dianne Schmidt, Glenview/Glencoe; Chris Slowik, Palos/Orland League, Lois B. Taft, Evanston.

Editor: Chris Ruys
Webmaster: Peggy Kell
332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 634
Chicago, IL 60604

312/939-5935 x 4