Maria Pappas

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Maria Pappas

b. June 7, 1949

Cook County, Treasurer (1998-)
Cook County, Commissioner (1990-1998)

Originally from Warwood, West Virginia, Maria Pappas came to Chicago in 1972 to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Not very politically active, Pappas was encourage to run for Cook County Commissioner by then-State Sen. Rickey Hendon, Jr., who represented Greektown in 1990. Pappas ran, benefited from being at the top of the ballot with a large Greek constituency, and won.

She first attempted to win higher office in 1994, but was neatly put down by incumbent John Stroger, who won a majority in a three-way primary race.

Lacking organization support for her 1998 Treasurer run, Pappas seized on a "progressive" mantle and held on to it after her election. In the first few years as Treasurer, she actually submitted slimmed down budgets for her office, trimming staff and significantly modernizing the Treasurer's office.

In 2004, she entered the open U.S. Senate race with high name recognition and significant independent voter support, but was later swamped by big spending from Blair Hull and the growing tide of Barack Obama's candidacy.

Since then, Pappas has tended to the Treasurer's office and made no further moves for higher office.


  • 1970, West Liberty State College, B.A.
  • 1972, West Virginia University, M.A., Guidance and Counseling
  • 1976, Loyola University, Ph.D., Counseling and Psychology
  • 1982, Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D.

Important Political Events

  • 1990, Elected Cook County Commissioner
  • 1994, Defeated for Cook County Board President by John Stroger
  • 1998, Elected Cook County Treasurer, defeating Tom Murphy
  • 2004, Defeated for U.S. Senate by Barack Obama