Newly-installed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she doesn't condone nepotism, but said that she and Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, whom she supported, remain friends and political allies.
"Joseph Berrios is my friend. He is the chairman of the Democratic Party and I'm a Democratic committeeman. However, I think it's critically important that we bring talented, competent people into government. In the 19 years I've been aldermen, I never hired any family members, and I think it's inappropriate," Preckwinkle said.
Berrios' relatives were previously employed with the county property tax appeals board, where he was a commissioner.
"These are not new family members that are working for government. These are people who have already worked for government and all it was, was I brought them from upstairs to downstairs to do the job," he said.
Berrios said his family members were qualified and could be trusted.
"My family will be working day in and day out," said Berrios. "I got here at 7 o'clock in the morning every day this week. They've been here at 7 o'clock in the morning."
Preckwinkle's remarks came during a press event introducing new key aides on her staff. Robyn Kelly, who lost her recent bid for state treasurer, comes on as her chief administrative officer. Greg Wass is the county's new Chief Information Officer.
In the first four days of her administration, Preckwinkle has fired 22 staffers hired by her predecessor, Todd Stroger.