Tony Peraica

Riverside Republican Tony Peraica is taking another stab at running for office in Cook County. Peraica is now the Republican candidate for Cook County Clerk in the November election. He will face Democratic incumbent Karen Yarbrough. 

Peraica, a former Cook County board member, has been out of office since 2010 when he was defeated in his bid for a third term on the county board by Jeff Tobolski who was then the mayor of McCook in a contentious campaign. In 2012 Peraica was convicted of a misdemeanor criminal damage to property charge for destroying a Tobolski campaign sign late in the campaign. He was sentenced to four months of court supervision with no fine or jail time. 

Tobolski resigned from the county board in 2019 and pled guilty to accepting bribes in 2020 in charges relating to his work as the mayor of McCook. In 2006 Peraica ran a strong race for County Board president in 2006 but lost to Todd Stroger. 

Peraica, 65, is a lawyer who his own law firm with offices on the southwest side of Chicago. The always litigious and pugnacious Peraica has unsuccessfully sued former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan twice in recent years alleging that Madigan recruited sham candidates in one case and harassed an opponent in another case. 

Peraica was recruited to run for Cook County Clerk by Cook County Republican Party chairman Sean Morrison who formed a slate of candidates to run for county executive offices after no Republicans ran for the Cook County executive offices in the June primary.

“I voted early in the primary and there were like three candidates on the entire Republican ballot and I was just depressed when I saw the lack of participation and the lack of competition from the Republican Party in Cook County and I felt that every office should be contested,” said Peraica, who lost a race for Cook County State’s Attorney to Anita Alvarez in 2008. “And I felt that every office should have someone running to offer the voters an alternative to the families that run the political establishment here in Cook County,” 

The Republican ward and township committeeman in Cook County met after the primary to form a slate of candidates. They needed to get 1,500 signatures on nominating petitions and filed petitions with nearly 6,000 signatures on July 25.

Peraica said that how serious an effort he and the other Republicans on the county slate make in traditionally Democratic Cook County depends on how much money Republicans can raise.

“How serious the effort is going to be depends on the level of financial support that we get from Republican donors,” Peraica said. “And I can say to you that there is a lot of interest and a lot of support both at the congressional level and at the county level and also at (state) Senate and House of Representatives level.”

Peraica said he and other Republicans on the slate will be running on a message of lower taxes and reform. He said that the patronage system still needs to be rooted out in Cook County. Peraica said that Yarbrough is part of the Democratic establishment and was a loyal supporter of Madigan, who is now facing federal corruption charges, when Yarbrough (D- Maywood) was a state representative and an assistant majority leader under Madigan.

“She comes out of Proviso Township which is known as one of the most corrupt townships around and she is a supporter and a recipient of largesse from Michael Madigan,” Peraica said.

Peraica accused Yarbrough of patronage hiring in the clerk’s office.

“Nobody is a bigger offender on the patronage front than Karen Yarbrough,” Peraica said. “She’s currently in court, federal court, on the enforcement of the Shakman consent decree.”

According to a 2019 story in the Chicago Tribune, attorney Michael Shakman, the person the Shakman decree barring patronage hiring in most positions is named for, claimed in a court filing that Yarbrough put politically connected people in jobs that are supposed to be free of political influence, asked employees for political contributions and transferred some supervisors to offices far from their previous assignments in the hopes that they would quit. Some top staffers of former County Clerk David Orr lost their jobs after Yarbrough became County Clerk after the 2018 election.

A Yarbrough spokeswoman defended Yarbrough’s record in her nearly four years as Cook County Clerk.

“Karen Yarbrough’s record as Cook County Clerk reflects reform and improvement at every level of the office from the successful operation of suburban elections to effectively assuming all duties of the former Recorder of Deeds Office.” said Sally Daly, deputy clerk of communications.