Stroger takes oath of office; presides over first meeting as prez today
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
by Mema Ayi
Monday was a "proud day" for the entire African American community in Cook County, said newly elected Cook County Commissioner William Beavers following President Todd Stroger's official oath of office.
"This is only second to Harold Washington's victory when he became mayor of the City of Chicago," said Beavers, former 7th Ward alderman, who was chosen as the 4th District Democratic nominee to take the commissioner's seat of former President John H. Stroger.
With Beavers in his father's former district seat, the new president will vote only in the case of a tiebreaker.
Former President Stroger, who suffered a massive stroke a week before winning the Democratic primary, retired from all county posts in July. Cook County Democrats selected his son as the new nominee for president and Beavers for the elder Stroger's uncontested commissioner's seat.
Despite a tough campaign fraught with cries of nepotism and charges that the younger Stroger would continue along his father's path of governing the county, Todd Stroger beat out Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-16th) last month.
"Make no mistake, I'm here to bring real change," Stroger said.
In his inaugural address, Stroger said the county will make bold changes to restore people's faith in county government.
"The transitions will be tough, the sacrifices painful. The dramatic change - worth it," Stroger said. "We must reduce excessive staffing, we must eliminate waste, we must restore faith in this government. We must and we will take bold steps."
Commissioners said Monday they were impressed with Stroger's inaugural address, which called for sweeping changes to eliminate waste and corruption in county government.
Commissioner Earlean Collins (D-1st) reminded Stroger that the county is facing tough times.
"I am very, very, very concerned about the challenges that face us, but you have an opportunity to do something great in the County of Cook," Collins said. "Tough times never last, people do."
Cong. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), a former county commissioner who also asked
Democratic committeemen to consider him for the president's job, said he is optimistic about the younger Stroger's ability to serve as president.
"We know our county government is going to be in great hands because he has a comprehensive vision of what county government is and what county government must become," Davis said.
Former 2nd District Commissioner and interim president Bobbie Steele said she believes she left Stroger with a blueprint to follow.
"Let that speech be your guide for running this county. And this board is something special. I feel like I'm leaving you in good hands," Steele said.
Stroger said his immediate focus will be on the budget and the county's $500 million deficit.
Stroger said he will not balance the budget by raising taxes, but plans to take his time completing the budget.
"Even though we have officially entered a new fiscal year, state law gives us until Feb. 28 to adopt a budget. We need every bit of that time. This task is too important to rush," he said.