Joan Murphy

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(d. September 18, 2016)

Joan Murphy

Cook County, 6th District Commissioner (2002-2016)

Originally from a union family in South Boston, Joan Patricia Murphy rose politically through a series of South Suburban political positions. Murphy started her career in the Village of Crestwood in 1965, and was the first woman elected to a series of positions: Crestwood Village Clerk, Worth Township Clerk, and Worth Township Supervisor, rising to eventually become the first woman to hold the 6th District seat on the Board of Commissioners, representing the Southland.

Murphy obtained her first major position in County government in 1995, when she started as Chief Investigator of the Cook County Board of Ethics, where she stayed for seven years until her run for the board in 2002. She also served as administrative assistant for the clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court for a year, and as a job developer in the Cook County Office of Employment Training for one year. The victory came after after several unsuccessful runs for the board in the 80's and 90's. Murphy finally won the 6th District against one-termer Democrat William Moran in 2002.

Known as a strong supporter of Board President Todd Stroger (she somewhat jokingly suggested to the Daily Southtown that a statue be built to honor him in Grant Park), Murphy was one of three democrats who frequently voted in opposition to Toni Preckwinkle, more often than some Republicans on the board, according to an analysis by Dick Simpson at UIC. Murphy voted with Preckwinkle during her first term just 54% of the time, but has kept a lower profile in Preckwinkle’s second term. Top donors to her campaign committee include AFSCME Illinois Council 31 and the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Murphy voted in favor of sales tax increases under both Stroger and Preckwinkle in 2008 and 2015, and voted to prevent the repeal of the sales tax under Stroger in 2009. Murphy garnered headlines in 2011 for wanting to roll back the county’s ban on puppy mills, and for refusing to take mandatory unpaid furlough leave to save money (she later reversed her stance).

In 2010, attorney Nick Valadez challenged Murphy for her seat, tying her to the sales tax hike and to officials implicated in a criminal investigation into Crestwood's secret use of a community well contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. Despite a Tribune editorial endorsement saying Murphy was “fiercely dedicated to… obeying Todd Stroger, kowtowing to big labor and raising taxes,” Valadez fell short, only garnering 30% of the vote in the Democratic primary. Murphy ran unopposed in 2014.

Murphy was an appointee to President Obama’s National Oceans Council, Governor Pat Quinn’s High Speed Rail Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Southwest Conference of Mayors and Managers.

Important Political Events

  • 1965, Elected Clerk of Village of Crestwood
  • 1986, Defeated for Suburban Cook County Board seat in general election
  • Elected Clerk for Worth Township
  • 1988, Defeated for Suburban Cook County Board seat in general election
  • 1989, Appointed Supervisor for Worth Township, replacing Harry Yourell
  • 1994, Defeated for Cook County Commissioner by Republican Barclay Fleming
  • 2002, Elected Cook County Commissioner, defeating Jerry Hurckes and John Daly, replacing William Moran
  • 2016, Died in office. Replaced by Fred Moody by vote of Democratic Committeemen