b. January 14, 1963
Cook County, Board President (2006-2010)
Illinois, State Representative (1992-2001)
Chicago, 8th Ward Alderman (2001-2006)
Chicago, 8th Ward Democratic Committeeman (2007-2012)
Todd Stroger was the beneficiary of a carefully crafted political legacy created by his father, the late 8th Ward boss and Cook County Board President, John Stroger.
Todd Stroger's political rise was paved by his father, first through a series of County government jobs, his slating for State Representative, and then his appointment to alderman to replace the late Lorraine Dixon. A quiet public servant with few significant accomplishments in both legislative bodies, Todd Stroger would likely have gently passed into history had it not been for a perfect storm of political events in 2006.
At the beginning of 2006, John Stroger was prepared to run for reelection as Cook County Commissioner and as Cook County Board President (two separate positions often held jointly). Stroger, reportedly in poor health, decided to run for reelection to stave off strong opposition campaigns by reformers Michael Quigley and Forrest Claypool (Quigley later dropped out in support of Claypool). Then, only weeks before the Democratic Primary, John Stroger suffered a stroke and disappeared from public view. While the nature of the stroke was not disclosed, Democratic Committeemen turned out the vote and John Stroger received a significant sympathy vote, winning him the primary.
Soon after John Stroger won the primary, it was disclosed that he could no longer physically serve in office. A scramble for control of the Board immediately broke out. For some time West Sider Congressman Danny Davis was discussed as a replacement, but ultimately the South Siders won the big prize. West Side County Board Commissioner Bobbie Steele would serve as Interim Board President until December, 7th Ward Alderman and John Stroger confidante William Beavers would take John Stroger's Commissioner seat and Todd Stroger would replace his father on the ticket for Board President. Michelle Harris would replace Todd Stroger as 8th Ward Alderman, and Darcel Beavers would replace her father as 7th Ward Alderman.
At stake was the tremendous patronage controlled by the Cook County President's office. As President and 8th Ward Democratic Committeeman, John Stroger directed more African-Americans into government jobs than any other politician in Illinois. Rumored to be in the thousands, 8th Warders in John Stroger's patronage army would hit the streets every election cycle to support his candidates across the South Side and South Suburbs.
In the general election for President, faced with a choice between conservative Republican Commissioner, Anthony Peraica and the Democratic machine candidate, Todd Stroger, voters chose Todd, preserving 8th Ward control over County patronage. Soon after the election, John Stroger stepped down as Democratic Committeeman, leaving the position to his son. Today the Stroger patronage army brazenly labels itself with t-shirts emblazoned "Todd Squad".
As Board President Todd Stroger was under constant attack by GOP Board members and reform Democrats, including Lawrence Suffredin, Michael Quigley and Forrest Claypool. In particular, Stroger was lambasted for adding an extra 1% County sales tax, at a time when many thought County government was too big and patronage laden.
Then, in 2010, progressive and 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle mounted a challenge to Stroger, upbraiding him for the sales tax increase and perceptions of patronage overrunning County government. Stroger lost, and has not made further forays into politics since.
Employment and Electoral History
Stroger worked as a statistician for the Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County. Later, he was also a jury supervisor with the Cook County Jury Commissioners. He also briefly worked as an investment banker for SBK Brooks Investment Corporation.
- St. Ignatius College Prep
- Xavier University, B.A., History
Important Political Events
- 1992, Elected State Representative, replaced by Marlow Colvin
- 2001, Appointed 8th Ward Alderman, replacing Lorraine Dixon, by Mayor Richard M. Daley
- 2003, Elected 8th Ward Alderman
- 2006, Appointed Cook County Board President Democratic Nominee by Cook County Democratic Committeeman, replacing John Stroger
- 2006, Retired as 8th Ward Alderman, replaced by Michelle Harris
- 2006, Elected Cook County Board President, defeating GOP Nominee Anthony Peraica and replacing Interim President Bobbie Steele
- 2007, Appointed 8th Ward Democratic Committeeman by Ward precinct captains, replacing John Stroger
- 2010, Defeated for Cook County Board President by Toni Preckwinkle
- 2012, Retired as 8th Ward Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Michelle Harris