This week, AustinTalks will be profiling each of the five candidates seeking the Democrat nomination for the 1st District seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Brenda Smith wants to replace her boss, retiring 1st District Commissioner Earlean Collins.
But that’s going to be a challenge amid of field of four other candidates vying to represent Austin on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Unlike the other candidates – who have filed finance reports with the Illinois State Board of Elections and handed out campaign brochures – Smith appears to be mounting little if any campaign. She’s been a no-show at candidate forums, including a Feb. 1 event and a Feb. 25th debate.
Despite repeated attempts since mid-February to reach Smith, AustinTalks has been unable to talk with the candidate.
One early supporter who notified AustinTalks and other media in the fall about events Smith was participating in declined to discuss her candidacy.
But he did refer calls to Austin resident Micah Haywood.
“She cares about the community,” Haywood said. “She supports residents, and shows it each and every day.”
Haywood said Smith makes it a point to talk with residents in his neighborhood and always asks Haywood about his father, who is battling Stage 4 cancer.
“That’s what touches me the most; it shows it’s not just about politics with her,” Haywood said.
It’s critical the next commissioner creates jobs in the 1st District, he said.
“She’s already been helping residents find jobs. I think for anybody, you look for somebody who knows the people. That’s the biggest thing.”
But Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a former Chicago alderman, said he doesn’t think Smith has a chance of winning.
“She’s a very minor candidate,” Simpson said.
Before Smith went to work for Commissioner Collins, she served as chief of staff to fellow 1st District candidate Ike Carothers when he was 29th Ward alderman. That’s causing some to question whether she’s running to split the vote and help Carothers, a convicted felon, return to elected office.
“I don’t know enough about her to be able to tell if she’s a plant or not,” Simpson said. “But it’s not a race you really needed more candidates to split votes.”
Telephone number: (312) 574-0045
Campaign headquarters: 5811 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60644
No campaign finances have been filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections