Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=101671
Story Retrieval Date: 5/22/2013 11:55:05 PM CST
While the presidential election has energized citizens--especially young voters--the race for Cook County state’s attorney has received less attention and, in the eyes of some, is almost as important.
The choice is between Anita Alvarez – the Democrat vying to succeed her boss, Dick Devine – and Tony Peraica – the Republican County Board member who hopes to become the first GOP to be prosecutor in 12 years.
The state’s attorney oversees a staff of 600 attorneys who prosecute crimes ranging from vandalism at schools to torture by police to murder.
The two candidates say they are trying to draw attention to the race to harness the momentum from the presidential race and translate it into a volunteer workforce for their own races.
Dick Simpson is the head of the political science department at University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman.
He said voters should pay attention to a down-ballot race such as the one for state’s attorney because it has a greater local impact on how tax dollars are spent.
“The criminal justice system is so large and we spend so much on it,” he said.
Simpson said that while he thinks most people have heard of both of the candidates, he isn’t as sure that voters know the candidates. He said although debates have been scheduled – the next one will be at 7 p.m. Thursday on ABC7 – that it will be hard to get the same level of attention that the presidential debates received.
That attention is something the Peraica campaign has been trying to be creative about generating: An official with the campaign said that they have been piggy-backing on McCain’s campaign by asking voters with McCain signs in their yards to post Peraica signs, too.
At the Alvarez campaign, a spokeswoman said that the campaign has used electronic communication—particularly email blasts—to focus on the younger generation for votes and volunteers.
She said they have been particularly successful in recruiting students from area law schools.
The candidates disagree on what younger voters care about this year. For Alvarez, it’s violent crime. For Peraica, it’s public corruption.