Democrat Joan Patricia Murphy won her bid for reelection in the 6th District Cook County commissioner’s race Tuesday.
While it is unclear if Murphy’s third four-year term will include a vote in favor of the controversial Stroger sales-tax hike, she did have positive words for the measure.
“That one-penny sales tax is what kept this government afloat,” Murphy said before Wednesday morning’s Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting. “We were solvent when all the governments around us were falling [into debt.]“
Murphy’s comments come as the board must grapple with a projected $285 million deficit in Cook County’s $3 billion budget, which Murphy said should be Board President-elect Toni Preckwinkle’s main concern.
Early on in her bid for election, Preckwinkle stated she would remove what’s left of the contested sales tax, though in recent weeks she’s said the rollback of the half-cent tax may need to be delayed until 2012. Murphy agreed it’s not likely to happen soon.
Murphy also favors the proposed South Suburban Airport, which has a tumultuous past as it was once both spearheaded and later declared dead by now lame-duck Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in 1992.
Murphy’s defeated Republican opponent, Sandra Czyznikiewicz, opposes the airport and said the county should work on improving Midway and O’Hare before “we even consider another airport.”
“Where do you want to put it and how many homeowners do you want to dislocate in order to accommodate a new airport?” she asked during a phone interview last week.
While election night saw much of the nation turn from blue to red as Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and Democrats lost their majority in the U.S. Senate, here in Illinois all but one out of 11 Democrat incumbents seeking reelection won.
While gaining two new Democrats, the board lost both a Republican and an independent. The board now has three reelected Republican commissioners.
Murphy won her South Suburban district — which includes parts of Lansing, Steger and Oak Forest — for the third time since 2002 with 65 percent of the vote over Czyznikiewicz’s 35 percent.
According to official numbers from the Cook County Clerk’s website, in 2006 a total of 76,852 people voted in the 6th district election; 81,479 voted this year.
Four years ago, Murphy got 56,814 votes while this year she garnered 53,058. Czyznikiewicz earned 28,421 votes.
Murphy said she was nervous about this election because of rising support for Republican candidates nationwide.
“The difference was those extra 6,000 people who came out voting against my party, or me,” she said, referring to the difference in the number of voters who cast ballots between this year and 2006′s election.
The new and reelected county commissioners will be sworn in Dec. 6, five days after the county begins its next fiscal year.