A Voter's Guide to the Cook County Sheriff's Race

 /  March 6, 2018, 9:17 p.m.


On March 20, Chicagoans will elect the Democratic candidate for the sheriff of Cook County. Because there is no Republican challenger, the winner of the primary election will be the new Cook County Sheriff.

Why You Should Care

The Cook County Sheriff is responsible for providing services and security to county and court facilities, administering the Cook County Jail, and policing throughout the county. The Office of the Sheriff oversees over 6,700 officers, deputies, and civilians who work within Cook County’s criminal justice system.


  1. Tom Dart is the incumbent sheriff. Dart grew up in Chicago and earned a BA in history and general social studies from Providence College before returning to Chicago to earn his JD at Loyola University. Dart began his career as a prosecutor in Cook County before becoming an Illinois State Senator in 1991. He then served as a state representative from 1993 to 2003. Dart served as chief of staff for former Cook County Sheriff Michael F. Sheahan, and succeeded him in 2006. In his time as sheriff, Dart has recentered the focus of Chicago criminal justice around mental health, appointing a clinical psychologist as warden of the jail and launching the Office of Mental Health Policy & Advocacy, which operates a twenty-four hour helpline for former detainees and screens new detainees for mental illness. After the sweet drink tax was repealed, Dart laid off many high-ranking jail officials in order to cut the payroll. If re-elected, Dart will focus in his next term on reducing the average length of stay in the jail, eliminating unreasonable warrants, and fighting the scourge of human trafficking.
  2. John Fairman earned his JD from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. As a law student, he spent time in Washington, D.C. helping to draft legislation to deal with the Enron crisis and working to secure funds for education hunger prevention. In 2007, he was selected by Illinois Chief Judge Timothy Evans to to redesign the court-appointed in-court bar program for all county courthouses. Fairman is currently a partner of Lee & Fairman, LLP, specializing in civil and criminal litigation. As sheriff, Fairman proposes to place thousands of new officers on the street, implement video conferencing for inmates for court hearings, and increase community policing.
  3. Edward Acevedo is listed as a candidate by Ballotpedia, but Gate staff were unable to find more information about his candidacy.
  4. Dominick Izzo, a law enforcement officer in the Chicagoland area since 2001, is not listed as an official candidate but has a website announcing his candidacy for Cook County Sheriff. Izzo has said that as sheriff he would relocate funding to community development assistance in helping non-citizens in Chicago who are working toward legalizing their status.

To learn more, we recommend readers check out these articles: 

The featured image is licensed under the Creative Commons; the original can be found here.

Kaeli Subberwal

Kaeli Subberwal is a fourth-year majoring in political science and minoring in physics. She has spent her summers working in local journalism at the Summit Daily News and national journalism at HuffPost, and doing archival research through the College Summer Institute in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. In her free time, Kaeli enjoys reading, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and doing crossword puzzles instead of studying.


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