From the floor of the Cook County boardroom during last Wednesday’s special Cook County Board Meeting, Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman announced her departure from public office after nearly 13 years representing the 17th District of suburban Cook County.
Commissioner Gorman, Republican from Orland Park, was first elected in 2002 to represent Cook County’s suburban 17th District. She has been a strong advocate for tax reform, fiscal responsibility, budget and operational efficiencies especially in the area of new technology. Commissioner Gorman has also worked hard for greater transparency and ethical standards throughout Cook County government.
Commissioner Gorman’s letter of resignation announcing her departure from public office on Monday, July 20 was formally submitted on Wednesday to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
In her letter to the President, Gorman stated, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of the 17th District for nearly 13 years on this distinguished body. It has also been a pleasure to serve with you, our board colleagues and staff. My years of service on the Cook County Board of Commissioners have been some of the most rewarding of my life.”
Gorman announced that she will be leaving the Cook County Board of Commissioners for a position in the private sector. She has been offered and accepted a position to join a Fortune 100 company in Chicago.
At the conclusion of the board meeting, Gorman reflected on her time in office and some of the highlights she will take with her into the private sector. She pointed to the efforts made to reform Cook County government operationally by making transparency a priority and raising ethical standards from top to bottom. “Especially in the last five years with President Preckwinkle at the helm, we were able to make serious inroads in these two vital areas,” added Gorman.
She also cited numerous tax and fee increase battles that she and some of her colleagues including fellow Republican Commissioners Tim Schneider, Peter Silvestri and Gregg Goslin were able to defeat or roll back; stating each battle brought its own unique challenges. The elimination of the Stroger Sales Tax was a hard fought victory where Gorman’s efforts to roll it back was faced down with numerous vetoes before her and her colleagues finally prevailed.
In recent years, the county saw significant reform in the areas of payroll and head count reduction, the cutting of bloat and wasteful spending, the incorporation of quantifiable measures and the integration of new technology. Gorman felt these reforms were a direct result of the administration change that occurred in 2012 when Toni Preckwinkle took over from Todd Stroger.
Within the 17th District, Gorman pointed to her close work with local leaders to bring significant infrastructure improvements throughout the 45 mile long 17th District. Working together, they were able to tackle several major flood mitigation projects and water management projects along with numerous road improvement projects.
A significant public health issue which Liz Gorman was front and center on was the heroin epidemic which has sadly spread to all parts of Cook County. In early 2015, the county board unanimously approved her resolution urging Cook County first responders, law enforcement, and healthcare professionals to train and equip their personnel with naloxone to treat heroin overdoses. “We are seeing positive results with the use of naloxone by first responders, law enforcement and healthcare professionals across the country which is why it’s imperative we expand its life-saving use across all of Cook County. We must continue to work jointly across all jurisdictions to fight the devastating effects of this highly addictive and deadly drug,” stated Gorman.
The buzz terms ‘bring reform’ and ‘fight corruption’ are clichés often used in the political arena. But in one particular case, Gorman struck big on both of them. She highlighted the episode regarding the former office of the Cook County Regional Superintendent of Schools.
In 2008, then Superintendent Charles Flowers requested a $190,000 loan from the county board to pay outstanding bills and expenses. Commissioner Gorman was the only commissioner to question and challenge the request as well as the only commissioner of 17 to vote ‘No’ for the loan request. “I took a lot of heat for my ‘No’ vote and for questioning the loan request, but I was later vindicated by the State’s Attorney’s investigation which led to criminal charges against the superintendent and finally the elimination of the office by the state legislature,” said Gorman.
Other major reforms during Gorman’s time in office included the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office where she served as the county board representative on its advisory committee. “We were able to professionalize and modernize this office. Eliminating the patronage and unprofessionalism that had run rampant in the county morgue was the committee’s target,” said Gorman.
Gorman also served as Chair of the Suburban Caucus which was charged with making appointments to the RTA and PACE transportation boards. Working closely with her suburban colleagues, Gorman was able to bring much needed reform to the caucus by establishing effective By-Law procedures and initiating a transparent selection process.
Liz Gorman concluded by acknowledging the great work that has been done at the Cook County Forest Preserve District, especially over the past five years. “The major improvements made to the land, facilities, programming and administration have been remarkable. The Forest Preserve District is truly developing into Cook County’s crown jewel and is on track to become a national leader in the areas of recreation, restoration and conservation. I could not be more proud of all those efforts and the results we have seen,” said Gorman.
Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman’s final day in public office will be July 20, 2015.