Newcomer to campaign politics Maria Barlow hopes to bring “a choice, a change and a difference” to residents residing in Cook County’s fourth district come Election Day 2018.

Barlow, a Chicago native and practicing family law attorney at her own law firm, The Law Offices of Maria M. Barlow, LLC, since 2013, spoke to the Defender about where she believes incumbent Cook County Commissioner Michael Moore is lacking, what a strong leader for her community looks like, and her path to the polls.

Maria M. Barlow

Barlow pulled no punches when critiquing Moore. She highlighted, for example, Moore’s co-sponsoring the sugary beverage tax was a bad idea given the district’s proximity to the Indiana border. She said a lot of businesses suffered due to the tax. She said if re-elected Moore would attempt to reintroduce the tax if given the opportunity.

“First, I don’t think we have very good or strong representation in the fourth district; I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve seen a lot of changes and not for the good,” said Barlow. “If we had strong leadership, we would be able to get a lot more done and keep more businesses here. I don’t think the current commissioner has the strength to carry the fourth district in the right direction.”

Barlow identified “strength” within public officials as someone with independent ideas and a willingness to follow ideas that “make sense.”

“We need a leader able to say ‘No, that’s not a good idea’ but here is what we can do to bridge that gap,” said Barlow.

Although the controversial sweetened beverage tax was a lightning rod, Barlow said she always had intentions of running for commissioner dating back to her days in college at Northeastern Illinois University where she majored in justice studies. She said she was the first person in her family to attend college.

“I was probably going to wait a little longer, but the sugar tax helped me realize that we can’t do this another four years,” said Barlow.

The youngest of 11 children, Barlow said growing up she witnessed repeatedly how her eight brothers were needlessly harassed by law enforcement officials, which sparked within her a desire to stand up and advocate for those who needed her. She said she learned over the years that while times may be tough for her, others are experiencing even harsher circumstances.

Barlow said while she is well versed in many issues throughout the community, she doesn’t know everything and would welcome new ideas being brought to the table as well. Among the additions she said she would like to bring to the community are more local clinics, mental health service options, and more businesses like chain food restaurants to come to the district.

Seemingly machine politic elections are an issue of concern to Barlow.

“I think the bigger issue in Cook County and Illinois is you’re constantly running the same people for the same offices or people from the same machine,” said Barlow. “You have to get people who are strong, who are leaders, who are going to lead the district in the right direction.”

Barlow said through her law practice, she’s able to advocate on behalf of her clients but with a greater political platform she would be able to do even more.

“As an attorney I can only advocate for so many, but if the laws are against people and the policies are against people, no matter how well I advocate, we are still going to be back where we started, nothing is going to change, nothing is going to be truly done until we change the policies and the principles behind what’s going on,” said Barlow.

For more information about Maria Barlow, visit http://maria4commissioner.com/.

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