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

 /  March 6, 2018, 9:17 p.m.


On March 20th, registered Democrats in Cook County will be able to vote on the Democratic nominee for Treasurer. Given that it is almost certain this nominee will run unopposed, Democratic primary voters will have a final say on who will serve this coming term.

Why you should care

$12 billion. That’s the amount, on average, that the Cook County treasurer’s office collects in tax revenue every year. While tax collection is often perceived to be the role of the federal government, in a state like Illinois, which boasts the highest median property tax in the country, state officials like the Cook County Treasurer are taking from your paycheck just as much as the IRS. This alone makes the Treasurer’s race an interesting and significant one.

Moreover, the Cook County treasurer is responsible for redistributing tax funds to over 2200 local government agencies. In other words, the office serves as the link between your tax dollars and your schools, parks, libraries, etc… Thus, this is not a race to ignore for any concerned citizen who wants to know their tax dollars are benefiting their community.


  1. Maria Pappas is a 20 year incumbent who has overseen immense (and effective) transformations within the office she is running to keep. Modernizing bill payment, she has expanded payment options from two to nine, created and updated a website for ease of use, and begun a self-termed “war on paper” to move towards a paperless record system. Known as a budget hawk, she has also cut the office’s staff from 250 to 89 in her time in office, and reduced the operating budget of her department every year for 17 years straight. Pappas was endorsed by the Chicago Sun Times and The Chicago Tribune.
  2. Peter Gariepy is a fresh face in the race at 34 years of age. A certified public accountant, he has served in civil roles in Chicago in the past. Facing a daunting primary, he has drawn upon his skills as an accountant to make his central campaign promise: a system which would allow taxpayers to see in greater detail how their tax dollars are spent. His proposal would include details on how much is local governments receive from property tax revenue, and how much is spent on institutions that directly benefit the taxpayer (i.e. how much is my neighborhood school getting). Pappas has called the proposal “misinformed”.

Bottom Line

This race is between the proven experience of Pappas and the promises of innovation made by Gariepy. The winner will almost certainly be unchallenged in the general election, thus it is important to consider both sides of this significant primary. We encourage readers to check out the following sources for more information:

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

Jacob Toner Gosselin

Jacob Gosselin is a fourth-year majoring in Math and Economics and minoring in Creative Writing. He is interested in health policy and criminal justice reform. He's currently working as a data journalist with Injustice Watch, a non-profit newsroom in Chicago. He's previously interned at the Brookings Institution's Center for Health Policy, and the Kaiser Family Foundation. On campus, Jacob is the Captain of the Varsity Cross Country and Track teams, and was the Managing Editor of The Gate from 2017-2018. He enjoys reporting on local issues, running with his friends, and tutoring at Chavez Middle School with the Chicago Peace Corps.


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