Republican Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison survived a blue wave of Democratic victories in Illinois to retain his county board seat in a tight and hard-fought contest.
Unofficial vote totals in the days after the Nov. 6 election showed that Morrison defeated his Democratic challenger, Abdelnasser Rashid, by a margin of just 1,882 votes in the Cook County Board’s 17th District.
Morrison received 50.8 percent of the vote district-wide to 49.2 percent for Rashid.
The 17th District hugs the western edge of Cook County from Tinley Park on the south to Des Plaines on the north and includes almost all of Riverside and Brookfield north of Southview Avenue.
Morrison, of Palos Park, will be one of only two Republicans on the 17-member county board as two other suburban Republicans were defeated on Nov. 6.
The Cook County Democratic Party, led by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, had targeted Morrison and the two Republican incumbents who lost Tuesday and spent $261,000 to support Rashid.
In Riverside and Brookfield, where local Democrats campaigned vigorously for Rashid, the challenger fared very well against Morrison.
In Brookfield, Rashid won 64.8 percent of the vote, while in Riverside he received 59.7 percent.
Morrison was appointed to the county board in 2015 after Republican incumbent Elizabeth Gorman resigned.
Morrison was a leading opponent of the short-lived sweetened beverage tax that Preckwinkle pushed through but was quickly repealed in the face of an outcry against it, partially funded by major soft drink companies.
On election night after claiming victory at Hackney’s Restaurant in Palos Park, Morrison was relieved, feisty and happy.
“I repealed her soda tax and tonight she wanted to repeal me,” Morrison said of Preckwinkle. “Tonight she lost.”
Rashid, a 29-year-old resident of Justice and graduate of Harvard University and the son of Palestinian immigrants and was trying to become the first Arab Muslim on the Cook County Board.
Morrison said that it was a difficult race because the Democrats, led by J.B. Pritzker, who swept to an easy victory in the governor’s race, poured historic and previously unseen amounts of money into Democratic coffers.
Morrison said he thought he won because he knows his district and said that he had the support of 30 of its 32 mayors.
“I know my district, my district knows me,” Morrison said. “I’m very active commissioner here. I’m in the communities a lot, I work with a lot of the mayors.”
Morrison, 51, the owner of a south suburban security firm, said that he believed many Democrats voted for him.
“I think the reason they voted for me is, I think, my record in a little over three years I accomplished a lot of good positive things for the residents and citizens of the 17th District,” Morrison said.
Many of the voters who spoke to the Landmark at local polling places on Nov. 6 said that they knew little about the two candidates and voted mostly based on party affiliation.
Morrison will be one of only two Republicans remaining on the county board.
“It’s going to me a lonely place, but I will continue to fight extremely hard, Morrison said. “I will be whatever firewall and whatever commonsense approach that I can take to appeal to the administration that the residents of Cook County don’t want more taxes. They want us to actually balance our budgets and they want us to cut to cut size of government.”