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Kim Foxx Wins In Cook County State's Attorney Race

By Erica Demarest | November 8, 2016 5:03am | Updated on November 8, 2016 10:46pm

CHICAGO — Democrat Kim Foxx claimed victory over Republican Christopher Pfannkuche in Tuesday's race for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, vowing to fix "a system that we know needs repair."

Foxx handily beat incumbent Anita Alvarez during the Democratic primary in March, pulling in 58 percent of the vote to Alvarez's 29 percent. On Tuesday with 50 percent of Cook County precincts reporting, Foxx had 75 percent of the vote.

About 500 people gathered at Moe's Cantina in River North on Tuesday night for a viewing party honoring Foxx and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to the crowd, Foxx described a criminal justice system that "has been broken for some time" with a clear "gulf" between law enforcement and the community.

"Our work is just beginning," Foxx said. " ... I cannot tomorrow flip the switch and fix a system that has been broken for some time. The good thing about me is: I'm a very patient woman. But I am also relentless."

Referring to her childhood in Chicago public housing, Foxx added, "You have to be relentless when you grow up on the steps of Cabrini-Green. You have to be relentless when you are told that because of where you're born or your gender or the color of your skin, that you are somehow not enough."

As supporters whooped and hollered, Foxx stood beside her husband and daughters and vowed to reform the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

"The world is watching," Foxx said. " ... As difficult as these times are, I know that we have it in us to be a model of justice, fairness and reform. ... We will have Cook County on the map as a model of justice and fairness to all."

Kim Foxx's family was by her side as she addressed supporters Tuesday night.

Though Alvarez made history in 2008 when she became Cook County's first female and first Hispanic top prosecutor, she has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for her handling of the Laquan McDonald case.

Alvarez waited 13 months before charging the Chicago Police officer who fatally shot McDonald 16 times in 2014 — and only did so after a judge compelled the release of dashcam footage from the attack. Critics started a #byeanita hashtag on Twitter to demand she step down.

Foxx was a heavy favorite to win. She's a former prosecutor who previously worked as chief of staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, whose campaign fund contributed $250,000 toward Foxx's effort.

Foxx's connection to Preckwinkle has led to critics to charge the Cook County Board president would control the state's attorney's office, a claim Foxx denies.

"The gulf between law enforcement and our community must be bridged," Foxx said in March. "We all have the same and common goal, which is public safety. ... The work we have to do is going to take an all-hands on deck approach."

Earlier at the victory party, Foxx supporter Chakena Sims of Edgewater said at Moe's: "Kim Foxx brings a sense of hope."

"She comes with a strategy. ... She's one of the few public servants that came forward and actually wants to make change," Sims said.

Supporter Ameshia Cross likes that Foxx comes from Cabrini-Green and still has ties to communities of color. 

"One of the big things that drew me to her was open engagement," Cross said. "She wants to see change — not only in the criminal justice system, but in impoverished communities." 

Pfannkuche is a longtime prosecutor who retired from the state's attorney's office in 2011. He wrote a book on search warrants, according to the Tribune, and now hosts warrant training seminars for police groups.

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