RIVER NORTH — Insisting, "This is my job, and I intend to keep it," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez decried the city's "horrific" homicide count this year and attacked opponent Kim Foxx for a "lack of decency" Wednesday in a breakfast speech to the City Club.
Saying her prime focus was "the violent crime and the horrific crime rate here in the City of Chicago," Alvarez cited the 93 homicides already this year, saying it put the city on a pace for 700 murders in 2016.
Yet Alvarez immediately fell back on a familiar refrain from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, pointing to the "epidemic of gun violence and a flood of illegal guns" and calling for stiffer gun laws statewide.
With the Democratic primary less than three weeks away in her re-election bid, Alvarez turned her attention to lead opponent Foxx, former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. She said Foxx was using the police dashcam video of the killing of Laquan McDonald in a TV campaign ad as "a tool" to gain a "political advantage."
Acknowledging the video is "chilling," she cited how McDonald's mother had not wanted it released to the public and accused Foxx of "a lack of taste and a lack of decency."
She charged Foxx with scoring "cheap political points," adding, "I think it's appalling."
Foxx's campaign, however, defended the TV ad.
"We want to make sure Cook County voters know what is at stake," Foxx spokesman Robert Foley said. "Anita Alvarez failed to take action for 400 days after the murder of Laquan McDonald, which demonstrates her lack of judgment."
Although Foxx has been endorsed by a series of newspapers and politicians in recent days, including gaining the Cook County Democratic Party's endorsement, Alvarez insisted the only endorsement she was concerned about was that of voters on March 15.
"I am the right person to continue to do this job," Alvarez said. "I really like my chances in this race." She also suggested Foxx has been "lying about her legal experience."
She touted her record on hiring diversity, in addressing "wrongful convictions" and in "alternative sentencing" in non-violent crimes such as drug violations, and defended her methodical approach to the Laquan McDonald case.
She insisted Jason Van Dyke, the officer seen shooting McDonald 16 times in the dashcam video, was the first Chicago Police officer charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty shooting. She pointed to police shootings as a nationwide problem, and defended her slow pace in filing charges in the case as it is part of an ongoing joint investigation with U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon. She called it "the downside of joint investigations."
Alvarez emphasized, "My budget has continuously been cut" by Preckwinkle, and she later took another swipe at Foxx by adding, "I'm not gonna try to appease a party boss." Preckwinkle, Foxx's former employer, is also a leading force in the Cook County Democratic Party.
Alvarez was greeted outside the City Club breakfast at Maggiano's Banquets by a dozen protesters chanting, "16 shots!"
"It was a little hard getting in the door here," she granted in her opening remarks.
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