Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Does Toni Preckwinkle Have Fun?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Well, good job anyway, Madame President. 

    If Toni Preckwinkle were enjoying her new job as County Board President, would we even know it? Probably not. In public, Preckwinkle displays no frivolity whatsoever in her demeanor, her clothing, her hairstyle, her glasses, or her shoes.

    County, City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services

    [CHI] County, City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services
    Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel announced the creation of a joint committee tasked with examining county and city operations and identifying ways to cut costs. (Published Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011)

    This week’s Chicago Reader has the best of the “100 Days” profiles of Preckwinkle. Writer Alex Parker asks her a question she obviously doesn’t think about: whether she’s having a good time.

    Preckwinkle's Benefits Idea

    [CHI] Preckwinkle: Public Employees Must Sacrifice More
    Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says the salaries and benefits that public employees currently enjoy are unsustainable from an economic standpoint. (Published Thursday, Mar 17, 2011)

    In her first four months, Preckwinkle has already won some big victories: she managed to repeal the unpopular sales tax hike that sunk her predecessor, Todd Stroger, and her first budget passed the County Board unanimously. But if her new role is a source of pleasure, she's not letting on.

    “What is my favorite part of the job?” She considered that question at lunch recently in a downtown restaurant. She tapped her plate with her fork and laughed. "What is my favorite part of the job?" The question went unanswered, and she moved on to other subjects.

    Parker gives credit to Preckwinkle for repealing the unpopular 1 percent sales tax by her predecessor, Todd Stroger, but reports that when her staff applauded the victory, she ignored them and walked into the next meeting. He also reports that she has a collection of arrowheads on her desk, “a product of her fascination with Native American culture.” That’s only the second personal detail I’ve ever heard about Preckwinkle. She once told Ward Room that Duke Ellington is her favorite musician.

    Parkers also notes that Preckwinkle has surrounded herself with young staff members. Preckwinkle, who was a history teacher for 10 years before entering politics, sees them as her pupils.

    “I have two jobs,” Preckwinkle said. “One is to run the county, and the other is to train the next generation of public leaders. It’s a teacher's view of the world, and I’m first and foremost a teacher.”

    At the end of the article, Preckwinkle concludes she was happier when she was only responsible for her own neighborhood: “In this job, it’s much harder to have that connection to the work you do and the outcome. It’s not as rewarding as being an alderman.”

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!