The two-party system appears to be a bit of a sham this fall, at least as it relates to the “race” for the 17th District seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Republican powerhouse Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman, of Orland Park, appears to be coasting to victory in her quest for a fourth term, with Democrat Jim Hickey, also of Orland Park, apparently missing in action—perhaps by design--from the campaign trail.
Hickey, a Gorman ally and president of the Orland Fire Protection District, does not appear to have a functioning campaign operation. An Internet search shows no campaign website, and Hickey has not reached out to the press as a candidate.
He was unopposed in March 18 Democratic primary, picking up 7,693 votes, while Gorman amassed 13,292 votes in her contested race on the GOP side with physician Barbara Bellar.
Hickey did not respond to requests for comment by The Regional News. A Wikipedia entry about him claims that he entered the race “believing that Gorman, his ally and a key supporter in his election [to the OFPD board], was planning to run for higher office, and that he would only seek Gorman’s seat in the Nov. 4 election if she retired.”
A native of the Marquette Park neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side, Hickey ran for the newly created 11th Congressional District seat in 2012, finishing last in a three-way Democratic primary. The following year, he entered and then withdrew from the race to succeed disgraced U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Hickey’s absence has given Gorman free rein to continue her all-out advocacy for Bruce Rauner’s campaign for governor. She was an early and effective supporter of Rauner and is credited by many with playing a key role in his victory last March over established GOP candidates. Last month, Gorman hosted a town hall meeting for Rauner in Orland Hills.
Gorman, a self-described conservative “on fiscal and social issues,” is perhaps best known for her successful leadership role in opposing and later repealing the 133 percent tax hike pushed by then-County Board President Todd Stroger in 2008 and passed by the board’s Democratic majority.
“Throughout my time in office, I’ve been a strong advocate for tax reform, budget and operational efficiencies, especially in the area of new technology,” Gorman told The Regional News earlier this year. “I have worked hard to fight for tax reform on multiple fronts. In 2013, I successfully sponsored the tax rate cut to the county’s Motor Vehicle Transfer Tax. Also, I successfully fought $1.6 billion in new tax proposals over my term in office [since 2002].”
Gorman also said she has worked hard for greater transparency throughout county government. “I sponsored an ethics law requiring greater disclosure and transparency for Cook County government and spearheaded the charge that resulted in the resolution that led to the abolishment of the corruption-riddled Cook County Regional Office of Education,” she said.
She has also endeavored to “make the Cook County Forest Preserve District a national leader in the areas of recreation, restoration and conservation,” Gorman said.
The incumbent said that her staff has assisted hundreds of constituents with property tax appeals and numerous other service requests. “Infrastructure improvements were made a priority for the 17th District especially in the area of flood mitigation. I’m proud to highlight these initiatives, services and programs,” she said.
Gorman, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. She lives with her husband, Gerald, and sons, Conor, Liam and Shane.