Cook County Board Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-Riverside) took his bid to become the next county president straight to the doorstep of his Democratic opponent, Chicago Alderman Todd Stroger (8th) on last week.
On Aug. 2, in front of Stroger’s South Side aldermanic office where the large poster of his father, recently retired board president John H. Stroger, remains proudly displayed, Peraica challenged his competitor to join him in a “clean campaign pledge” by no longer accepting campaign donations from county employees and vendors.
Ald. Stroger was not available for comment and was not present when Peraica made his announcement.
“It’s time to let county employees know that they will no longer have to contribute to their self-appointed feudal lords any longer if I’m elected county board president,” Peraica said. “It’s time to reform Cook County government.”
Peraica accused Stroger of alleged improprieties by using his taxpayer-funded ward office to conduct work on his political campaign, a violation of Illinois election law.
He then cited a January study conducted by the Better Government Association that found more than half of John H. Stroger’s campaign donations over a six-year period came from county employees or those with contracts with the county.
“That’s the lifeblood of the machine, that’s how the machine exists,” said BGA Executive Director Jay Stewart. “Candidates make a lot of promises, but we are more interested in the results of whoever becomes the next leader of the board.”
Peraica’s recently released financial records showed a $643,000 campaign fund, $547,000 of which comes from a second mortgage he took out on his Riverside home. Peraica said his goal of obtaining a campaign fund of $2 million was half accomplished and “getting larger every day.”
Ald. Stroger’s campaign fund is about $48,000, not including a recent golfing fundraiser in Beecher. In addition to being the Republican Party’s candidate for county board president, Peraica is also running for reelection as commissioner for the county board’s 16th District.