b. January 16, 1960
Cook County, State's Attorney (2008-)
Originally from Pilsen, Anita Alvarez went to college at Loyola University, received her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law and started her legal career in the only place she's ever worked since 1986, the Cook County State's Attorney's office. Over the years she rose to the top, eventually becoming the Deputy State's Attorney. When her long-time predecessor, Richard Devine announced his retirement, Alvarez jumped in, taking advantage of being the only woman and the only Latino in a race that included many big political names.
The 2008 campaign, which posed her against Ald. Tom Allen, Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. and County Comm. Lawrence Suffredin, was tight, but Alvarez ultimately won the race with the help of a TV commercial that managed to tout both her legal experience and being a “mama”.
Since her election in 2008, Alvarez earned a reputation as a criminal justice hard-liner, and clashed repeatedly with Cook County Chief Justice Timothy Evans, Sheriff Tom Dart and Board President Toni Preckwinkle on sentencing rules and prosecutorial priorities. She also attracted the ire of African-American leaders, who believe her office unfairly prosecuted low-level drug crimes more than necessary.
Her unpopularity in the African-American community came home to roost in 2016, as it became evident that in 2014 she and Mayor Rahm Emanuel knew about police misconduct in the Laquan McDonald case, but kept video from the public of the police shooting of McDonald until after Emanuel's 2015 reelection. A popular movement in the Black community rose against her and in favor of Preckwinkle-backed Kim Foxx, who is African-American, during the March 2016 Democratic primary. Foxx obliterated Alvarez and a second challenger, Donna More, 62-26-12%.
Important Political Events
- 2008, Elected Cook County State's Attorney, defeating Tom Allen, Howard Brookins and Larry Suffredin, replacing Richard Devine
- 2016, Defeated for Cook County State's Attorney by Kim Foxx