Toni Preckwinkle

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Toni Preckwinkle

b. March 17, 1947

Cook County Board President (2010-)
Chicago, 4th Ward Alderman (1991-2010)
Chicago, 4th Ward Democratic Committeeman (1992-)

Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Toni Preckwinkle came to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago and upon graduation stayed to teach high school. In 1990, she became executive Director of Eugene Pincham’s organization, the Chicago Jobs Council. A fierce independent, Preckwinkle ran for alderman in crowded fields twice before finally winning election in 1991. The incumbent, Timothy Evans, ran with the support of Mayor Harold Washington the first two times.

On her third try, Evans no longer had the support of Washington, who had passed away two years earlier. Also, by 1990, Preckwinkle had gained the support of Eugene Pincham and was managing his Chicago Jobs Council outreach organization.

Preckwinkle rejected most traditional Chicago political practices and styled herself as a leader of then-called Independent Caucus in City Council. While she was a consistent thorn in Mayor Richard M. Daley's paw, she was also an early supporter of Barack Obama–a resident of the 4th Ward. Preckwinkle supported Obama’s failed 2000 run for Congress against Bobby Rush and was an early supporter of his 2004 U.S. Senate run.

As Alderman, Preckwinkle was closely allied with 5th Ward Alderman and Democratic Committeeman Leslie Hairston. Together they played leading roles in appointing Kwame Raoul to replace Barack Obama in the 13th State Senate district over Senate President Emil Jones’ aide and protégé William Burns in 2004.

Taking advantage of Cook County President Todd Stroger's disastrous first term in office, Preckwinkle ran a successful campaign against Stroger in 2010, combining her progressive roots, an aura from being one of Barack Obama's first supporters, and anti-tax support by pledging to reduce County sales taxes. Her term in office has been marked by a series of structural reforms for County government and elimination of many patronage positions.

Her wide-spread popularity made her an expected 2015 mayoral candidate against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was facing a wave of unpopularity prior to reelection. But she declined to run for Mayor. She has announced her plan to run for reelection in 2018.


  • University of Chicago, B.A.
  • University of Chicago, M.A., Education

Important Political Events

  • 1983, First run for Alderman, lost to Timothy Evans
  • 1987, Second run for Alderman, lost to Timothy Evans
  • 1991, Elected 4th Ward Alderman, defeating Timothy Evans
  • 1992, Elected 4th Ward Democratic Committeeman
  • 1995, Reelected 4th Ward Alderman, defeating Kwame Raoul
  • 1999, Reelected 4th Ward Alderman, defeating Kwame Raoul
  • 2003, Reelected 4th Ward Alderman
  • 2007, Reelected 4th Ward Alderman
  • 2010, Elected Cook County Board President, defeating incumbent Todd Stroger
  • 2014, Reelected Cook County Board President, unopposed


Chicago Politics: Ward by Ward, David K. Fremon, 1989.