Tom Dart

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Tom Dart

b. May 25, 1962

Cook County, Sheriff (2007-)
Illinois, State Representative (1993-2003)
Illinois, State Senator (1991-1993)

Tom Dart's father, William F. Dart was former Mayor Richard J. Daley's chief Springfield lobbyist and an important part of the 19th Ward Democratic Organization. With those two ties, young Tom got a strong start in Cook County politics.

Starting as a prosecutor in the Cook County State's Attorney's office, young Dart was appointed to fill Jeremiah Joyce's State Senate seat when he retired early in 1991. At the end of the term Dart was run for a recently redistricted state representative spot, easily unseating incumbent Nelson Rice, Sr. who no longer had the benefit of most of his previous voters.

Well-liked in the State House and considered a "rising star" because of his 19th Ward bonafides, Dart was edged out by Republican Judy Baar Topinka in the general election. Without an elected office to fall back to, Dart was hired as Chief of Staff by another 19th Warder, Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan where he stayed until Sheahan retired in 2006. Dart then ran for Sheahan's spot easily defeating two Democratic primary opponents.

Since his election to Sheriff, Dart has won kudos for running the nation's largest jail better than his predecessors, and for eliminating much of the patronage hiring among deputies that made jail operations and conditions worse than most other big-city jails. He's also become a progressive leader on criminal justice reform, attracting national attention for his reforms of the Sheriff's office.

His strong political name and good record as Sheriff made him an often discussed candidate for higher office and a likely Mayoral candidate for 2011, after Richard M. Daley announced his retirement plans. But after a great deal of public deliberation, Dart announced he would not run for Mayor. Since then, he's obtained a steady about of press for improvements to the jail and efforts to reduce its long-term population through early releases of non-violent offenders.

Dart is a rumored 2019 Mayoral candidate, which would make him compete with another 19th Warder now living on the North Side, Bridget Gainer.

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