Bobbie Steele

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Bobbie Steele

Cook County, Interim President of Cook County Board (2006)
Cook County, 2nd District Commissioner (1994-2006)
Cook County, Chicago Commissioner Seat (1986-1994)

Chicago Public Schools teacher and West Side activist Bobbie Steele was encouraged by then-Mayor Harold Washington to run for a Cook County Board seat in Chicago. At the time, Board seats were spilt between 10 at-large seats in the city and 7 at-large seats in the County. With the Mayor's support, a city seat would be achievable.

While Steele was a relatively quiet member of a Board first dominated by powerhouse Board President George Dunne in the 1980's, she became an ally of Board President Richard Phalen after his election in 1990, and then an occasional ally with progressives Mike Quigley, Forrest Claypool and Larry Suffredin during the John Stroger era.

With wide name recognition on the West Side, Steele made a pair of unsuccessful attempts at higher office, for Recorder of Deeds in 1992 and U.S. Congress in 1996.

Despite her progressive history, Steele managed an old-fashioned Democratic organization switcheroo in her final months in office. Following Board President John Stroger's death in office, Steele was elected Interim Board President in April 2006 with the understanding she would not contest his seat. Then, after her reelection as County Commissioner (county board members can be both a board member and board president) in November, she stepped down in December 2006 allowing Democratic Ward Committeemen to appoint her son Robert Steele to her Commissioner seat.

Important Political Events

  • 1986, Elected Cook County Commissioner for Chicago Seat
  • 1992, Defeated for Cook County Recorder of Deeds by Jesse White
  • 1996, Defeated for U.S. Congress by Danny Davis
  • 2006, Appointed Interim Cook County Board President by fellow Commissioners, replacing John Stroger
  • 2006, Retired as Cook County Commissioner, replaced by son Robert Steele