Incumbent Kim Foxx (Democrat) wins reelection for a second consecutive term as Cook County State’s Attorney. Foxx defeated Republican Pat O’Brien and Libertarian Brian Dennehy, with 62% of the city’s vote going to Foxx and 30.46% going to O’Brien, with 95% of the precincts reporting by 10:45 p.m. CST. Early returns showed a very close race, and O’Brien was hoping for an upset. But by 10 p.m., Foxx had a substantial lead.
“I received a call from Judge O’Brien congratulating me on tonight’s victory,” Foxx said. “I want to thank him for running a formidable race on behalf of the people of Cook County.”
Some law enforcement members, particularly leaders of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, have been publicly pushing her to take a more “tough on crime” approach and even calling on her to step down. Her challengers also continue to make former Empire star Jussie Smollet a central issue. Amid a tumultuous year filled with riots, protests, and upticks in gun and gang violence, Foxx’s prosecutorial decisions and policies have been subtly questioned by Mayor Lightfoot and Superintendent David Brown. The questions were prompted after a night of looting in downtown Chicago on August 10. Foxx pushed back, stating to Lightfoot, Brown, and critics not to conflate peaceful protesters with looters and those causing damage or inciting violence, noting that charges were pending in 90% of the more than 300 felony cases brought by Chicago police related to that unrest in the spring. Despite Mayor Lightfoot and Foxx occasionally disagreeing on policy issues, Lightfoot endorsed Foxx.
“We cannot afford to go back to those dark days, said Mayor Lightfoot. For women like myself and Kim, justice is not an abstract thing,” Lightfoot said. “We know when the deck is stacked against us. That’s why I voted for Kim.”
Kim Foxx is the first African-American woman to lead the second-largest prosecutor’s office in the country. Foxx has revamped the office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, resulting in 80 overturned convictions and the first mass exoneration in Cook County for 15 men whose convictions stemmed from a Chicago Police Officer’s misconduct. She is also a leader in bond reform, where she instructed prosecutors to review bond decisions for detainees who are unable to pay bonds of $1000 or less. Foxx played an integral role in passing legislation to legalize cannabis. Before giving that legislation and acknowledging that the failed war on drugs disproportionately affected communities of color, Foxx vacated 1000 marijuana convictions.
Under defeated candidate O’Brien’s tenure as chief of criminal prosecution for the state’s attorney’s office, twenty men were wrongfully convicted. This includes now exonerated Roscetti Four convicted of rape, kidnapping, and murder of medical student Lori Roscetti. They were sentenced to life in prison and forced to confess to the crime. After spending 14 years in jail, they were released and exonerated after DNA evidence excluded them as suspects.
“Tonight, voters chose safety and justice instead of law and order,” Kim Foxx said in a Tuesday night statement where she claimed victory. “They chose criminal justice reform and equity instead of wrongful convictions. They chose a way forward instead of going back.”
Kelly Washington is a freelance writer living on the southside of Chicago. You can follow her on social media @ Sunrise and Sugar (Facebook) and @ BlackBFly7 (Twitter).