Proposed law changes county board president succession

Updated 2 April 2019

Legislation quietly making its way through the Illinois General Assembly would change how the Cook County Board of Commissioners handles a vacancy in the president's office—if, say, the current officeholder were to win election to a different office.

Currently, if county board President Toni Preckwinkle were to resign, state law says that voters would choose her successor in the state's next general election—which takes place in November of 2020. But state law limits candidates for that election to existing county board commissioners.

The proposed law, SB0072, makes several significant changes that could go into effect if (as is now unlikely) Preckwinkle leaves office:

  • Within 30 days of a vacancy in the president's office, the county's Board of Commissioners must, by vote, appoint an interim president.
  • If more than 28 months of the president's term remain (as is the case for Preckwinkle), voters must pick a new president at the next general election.
  • The county central committee "of each established political party" will pick the person who'll be the party's nominee for a primary election before the general election.

The Illinois Senate approved the bill on March 28. That same day in the Illinois House, where the bill is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Greg Harris (13th), the bill was sent to the House's Rules Committee.