Rabbitt, Cook seek 45th Ward Democratic committeeperson’s seat, as Gardiner no longer running
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman James Gardiner (45th) is no longer running for re-election as 45th Ward Democratic committeeperson, leaving Edgebrook area residents Joe Cook and Michael Rabbitt as the only two announced candidates for the position.
“I will not be seeking re-election as Democratic committeeman. By allowing someone else to fulfill that role, I can give my undivided attention toward serving our community as alderman of the 45th Ward,” Gardiner said on Sept. 15.
Gardiner added, “Joe Cook will receive my endorsement due to his commitment and moderate values. I wish him success in this role.”
Cook works as a principal attorney at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and serves as a major in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps, where he is assigned to the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Currently he is the 41st Ward Democratic committeeperson.
“After speaking with family and neighbors, and after much thought and consideration, I am honored to announce my candidacy for 45th Ward Democratic committeeperson,” Cook said in a statement.
Cook added, “I have served as the 41st Ward Democratic committeeperson for the past four years. Due to the recent re-map, our neighborhood is now in the 45th Ward so I am not eligible to run again for 41st Ward Democratic committeeperson.
“I am proud of the work that the many volunteers of our Democratic organization ave done to recruit election judges, evaluate and recommend qualified Democratic candidates and increase voter turnout.
“I am grateful for the grassroots support of many of our neighbors. I am also honored to announce that I have the endorsements of the following elected officials who represent parts of the 45th Ward: U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley, State Senator Ram Villivalam, State Representative Mike Kelly and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer. I am also honored to have strong support from organized labor and the many unions who have supported me in the past.”
Rabbitt said that his campaign is “full speed ahead” regardless of who is running.
“As Nadig Newspapers reported, Joe Cook said he wasn’t going to run. It’s disappointing that now that Gardiner is withdrawing, Cook is running. What does that tell us about Cook’s commitment to the Democratic party? Cook appears to be the hand-picked replacement of a MAGA Republican in Jim Gardiner.
“I’m not running because I’m beholden to anyone – I’m running because 45th Ward Democrats deserve someone who works on behalf of Democratic values, not machine politics.
“The reason Democrats in the 45th Ward should support me are the same as they were before Cook announced: I want to build a diverse, inclusive and accessible ward organization and energize Democratic voters.
“Cook doesn’t have my track record of fighting for issues important to Democrats. Unlike me, he hasn’t taken public positions on issues important to Dems, other than saying he’s pro-labor,” Rabbitt said.
In 2022 Rabbitt narrowly lost to incumbent and Chicago firefighter Michael Kelly in the Democratic primary for the Illinois 15th District House seat. Several years ago Rabbitt helped organize an affordable housing group, which led the fight for a controversial mixed-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. in Jefferson Park.
Rabbitt works as a business transformation leader at the Argonne National Laboratory. He is part of a department that works on operational improvements and change initiatives at the company.
Committeepersons, whose position is unpaid, participate in their party’s slate making in which the chosen candidates receive the party’s endorsement and possible campaign support. They also help select replacements when an elected official resigns or retires before their term is up, as several Northwest Side legislators got their start when they were selected to fill out the remainder of someone else’s term.
Candidates running in the 45th Ward will need 659 valid signatures on their nominating petitions in order to make the ballot for the March 19, 2024, primary election.