Cook County, 1st District Commissioner (2014-)
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1) has a long history with political heavy hitters, especially on the city’s West Side. He clocked 13 years in Washington DC, including serving as an intern for U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a Congressional Black Caucus Fellow for former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, and legislative director, then Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Danny Davis for close to a decade. His district includes the West Side of Chicago, Oak Park, Forest Park, Maywood, Bellwood, Broadview, and part of Westchester.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi and raised in Englewood, Boykin attended Chicago Vocational High School in Avalon Park, pursued his bachelor’s degree at Central State University in Ohio, returned to Illinois briefly to teach in Chicago Public Schools, then sought his law degree at the University of Dayton. During his time at Dayton, Boykin worked in the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office and clerked for Judge John W. Kessler, the state’s longest serving judge.
In addition to his position as commissioner, Boykin continues to practice law and lobby in the Chicago and Washington D.C. offices of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He is a registered federal lobbyist (with specialties in appropriations and education), an ordained minister (a member of the Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Maywood), and former radio host.
Boykin’s ascension to County Board was the result of one of the First District’s most hotly contested and expensive races, with his campaign spending more than $500,000. In November 2014, he beat out four opponents to replace retiring Comm. Earlean Collins in part by chipping in $100,000 of his own money and a launching final-week TV ad narrated by Davis. His campaign committee had the backing of failed mayoral and presidential candidate Willie Wilson, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, the Proviso Township Democratic Organization, the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFSCME, Teamsters Local 700, and suburban mayors.
Boykin’s closest challenger was political newcomer, Blake Sercye, who boasted the backing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. He also defeated former 29th Ward Ald. Isaac Carothers, Brenda Smith (an aide to Collins and formerly, to Carothers), and Oak Park activist Ron Lawless. The relationships Boykin had forged as Davis' Chief of Staff and right hand man (much of Davis' district overlaps with the 1st County District) as well as his ability raise significant funds from outside of Chicago from his lobbying friendships, brought him a narrow victory on election day.
Since being sworn in in December 2014, Boykin has supported measures to curb gun violence, provide employment opportunities, and study social issues impacting African Americans, though many proved unsuccessful. He tried, and failed to fund a $50 million youth employment and training program using the gas tax, pass a resolution asking for a federal probe of CPD’s Homan Square, repeal a tax on bottled water after the lead crisis in Flint, and reduce commissioners’ salary by $10,000 each to fund employment programs.
Boykin is clearly interested in higher office. He has pushed his name forward for both Congressional and statewide spots. In August 2015, Boykin briefly considered a run for U.S. Senate against Mark Kirk in 2016 after then U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth and former Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp had already announced their candidacies. He planned an exploratory committee and listening tour around the state, but ultimately decided not to run. Some speculated the run was to set up a federal campaign account for his eventual run for Danny Davis’ seat.
- 1990, Central State University, B.A.
- 1994, University of Dayton School of Law, J.D.
Important Political Events
- 2014, Elected Cook County Commissioner, defeating Blake Sercye and Isaac Carothers, replacing Earlean Collins
http://www.richardrboykin.com/about/richard-boykin http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/sneed-exclusive-commissioner-boykin-eyes-senate-run/ http://progressillinois.com/posts/content/2014/03/19/boykin-wins-crowded-democratic-race-cook-county-boards-1st-district-seat https://thevillagefreepress.org/2014/02/05/a-conversation-with-richard-boykin-candidate-for-cook-county-board-of-commissioners-1st-district/