Cook County, 2nd District Commissioner (2017-)
Dennis Deer is a born and bred West Sider who rode to power after decades working for the Steele political family, Bobbie Steele and Robert Steele. He was appointed to 2nd District seat by a diverse group of Democratic Committeemen after Robert Steele’s unexpected death in July of 2017, and landed in his seat in the middle of a battle over the county’s sweetened beverage tax.
The second district is entirely within Chicago, and spans both the South and West Sides, a complicated district of political interests and allegiances. It covers 19 wards.
Deer left the West Side of Chicago to study education and rehabilitation psychology at Jackson State University, and went on to earn his “Doctor of Christian Psychology Degree”, and various certifications for rehab, treatment, counseling, and law enforcement training. He began his own rehabilitation services company in North Lawndale in 1996, and has authored several books. His company, Deer Rehabilitation Services, held several contracts with Cook County offices, including for law enforcement training and ex-offender therapy, until his appointment.
His ties to the Steele family, his advocacy and professional work, knowledge of county government, and his political and fundraising know-how were convincing enough to ward off a large group of challengers in the appointment process. State Rep. Melissa Conyears Ervin and her husband, Ald. Jason Ervin, were lobbying for Melissa until the last minute. City Clerk Anna Valencia’s husband, Reyahd Kazmi, also applied for the position, and placed second to Deer in the final vote tally. Close to a dozen other challengers also applied, and few ruled out a future run.
But Deer’s long history with the Steele family gives him a leg up. He served as president of Steele’s political organization starting in 2006, which he described as “one of the most respected organizations on the West Side.” He is also active on the South Side–a large part of the district–through community work with his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. But despite Bobbie Steele and Ald. Michael Scott, Jr.’s (24) endorsement, the end of the Steele family dynasty likely means a tough, expensive battle in the Democratic primary in 2018.
Important Political Events
- 2003 – Placed third in a six-way race for 24th Ward alderman
- 2006 – Leads Robert Steele's political organization, Friends for Robert Steele
- 2017 – Appointed commissioner for 2nd District of Cook County
- Jackson State University, B.S. Elementary/Special Education, M.S. Rehabilitation Psychology
- PH.D in Christian Psychology