On December 3rd, I will begin my fifth term as a Cook County Commissioner and a Cook County Forest Preserve Commissioner. I am humbled by the 91,000 plus votes I received last Tuesday. This vote affirms my belief that the 13th District wants independent and firm leadership. During the last four years, I have fought to ensure County services are provided to all uniformly; and that all County taxes are fair and reasonable.
Thank you for your confidence in me.
The new Board I will serve on will be very different. It will have seven new members from every area of the County. It is a group of talented people with diverse and independent ideas on how to improve the County and the Forest Preserves.
I am excited about our potential.
In order for Cook County and the Forest Preserve District to move forward, it is crucial that an independent Board works with the President of the Board and other elected officials to improve the quality of life for our residents.
As a Board, we must take responsibility to develop plans that respect the taxpayers; deal with violence in our neighborhoods; strengthen health care; improve our Forest Preserves; and treat fairly our employees. To accomplish this, I suggest the following:
1. Keep our residents truthfully informed about all aspects of the County and Forest Preserves. Cook County government is often described as "stealth government "because few really know what we do and how we spend Tax dollars. We must become better known and understood.
2. Take responsibility for the operating budgets of the County and Forest Preserve by explaining the actual cost of:
a. Running the largest local government public hospital and clinic system in Illinois with over 1 million patient appointments and visits a year;
b. Funding the largest court system in the United States with more cases filed and disposed of each year than most states;
c. Running the largest single site jail in Illinois with nearly 10,000 daily pre-trial detainees;
d. Funding the government for 5.25 million people in the second largest county in the United States;
e. Running fair elections in suburban Cook County for over 2.5 million people;
f. Recording birth and death certificates and property records;
g. Assessing the value for tax purposes of over 1.8 million parcels of real estate;
h. Collecting real estate taxes to fund all municipalities and local governments in Cook County;
i. Maintaining 1,474 miles of highway, 130 bridges and 332 traffic signals;
j. Paying our pension and salary obligations to over 21,000 employees and retirees; and
k. Maintaining 70,000 acres of Forest Preserves.
3. Making our responsibilities as Cook County Forest Preserve Commissioners a priority. We recently celebrated our 100th year as a Forest Preserve District by creating a Century Conservation Council of leading environmental volunteers. We must help implement their conservation priorities for today and the next 100 years. We have a responsibility to preserve and protect our land before passing it to future generations.
Finally, and most importantly, the fair and legal solution to our future budgets means working with the State to solve funding priorities for infrastructure and pension obligations. Solving our structural budget obligations will help us properly provide resources for all other operations.
This new Cook County Board has the talent to solve all our problems and to make our citizens proud. I am looking forward to starting the new term.
Thank you for re-electing me.
Larry Suffredin, 13th District