Editor’s note: This story is the second in a series featuring candidates for Cook County’s 5th District, which includes Flossmoor.
When Cook County District 5 Commissioner Deborah Sims decided she would retire after 28 years in that seat at the end of her term this year, she called Monica M. Gordon. Sims, who has endorsed Gordon, thought she would be a good fit for the position. Gordon said she had to think about it.
“I wanted to make sure I was the right person to run for this position,” Gordon said.
Gordon, 44, originally from the West Side of Chicago, lived in Flossmoor for the past 10 years but recently moved to Chicago Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University. She holds a master’s degree in communications and training from Governors State University. She works as director of government affairs and community relations at Chicago State University. She is serving the Prairie State College Board of Trustees. And she was previously executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, following a career in medical sales.
But county government is a different beast. And it can have a direct impact on residents’ quality of life.
“Usually it’s the last resort for most people — people who really need government services,” Gordon said. “This is really an opportunity to help a great deal of people, and people who need the help the most.”
Gordon said Sims has had a big impact on District 5 during her long tenure as commissioner. She has done a great deal with mammograms, testing and more for breast cancer that has a direct impact on women’s health in the district, Gordon said. She also put in a lot of work on water infrastructure, according to Gordon.
“There’s a lot more work to do,” Gordon said. “That’s an area where I want to take the baton and continue that work.”
Cook County recently passed an $8 billion budget, roughly half of which focuses on health care. Gordon said that creates an “awesome” opportunity to help the people who need it. Health care, water issues and economic development are three major focuses of Gordon’s campaign.
“I’m big on fighting for working class families,” Gordon said.
She also is focusing on public safety, hoping to find funding for juvenile programs, mentoring and more anti-violence initiatives.
“The violence has gotten completely out of control,” she said.
Gordon thinks she is the right person to take over in District 5 because of her ability to network and bring resources to the community. In addition to the emotional intelligence it takes to build meaningful relationships, Gordon touts her drive and tenacity.
“I won’t give up; I’ll work hard,” she said. “I’m passionate about my community as well as other underrepresented communities. I’m passionate about everyone having the opportunity to live the American dream.”
Gordon said she has lived in a variety of situations across the district, and she hopes being able to relate to her constituents will make it easier to solve their problems. District 5 is economically diverse, but everyone needs resources, Gordon said. She is looking forward to partnering with local officials such as Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson to address the needs of the district’s communities.
“Every area has unique problems, and we need to provide unique solutions for these problems,” Gordon said.
When Gordon was just a tween, she said she cried when Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson. That is how far back Gordon said her love of boxing goes. These days, Gordon boxes for fitness and stress relief. But she said there are also political lessons to be learned in the conditioning and training boxing requires to attack problems head-on.
“If there’s something you believe in, you’ve got to fight for it,” Gordon said.
She hopes the 5th District will elect her to do just that. The goal is to fight not just for votes but for the voters.
“I’m here for them,” Gordon said. “I never want to be an elected official that feels like I’m better than them. No, I work for them and I’m here for them. … We’re all in this together as a family.”
If elected commissioner, Gordon said she thinks she could retain her elected position with Prairie State but would not.
“To me, that’s doing too much,” Gordon said. “I think I’d like for someone else to have that opportunity.”
For more information about Gordon’s campaign, visit monicaforcookcounty.com.
The General Primary in Illinois is Tuesday, June 28. Gordon is to face off in the District 5 Democratic primary against Jaylin D. McClinton, Kierra Williams and Vernard L. Alsberry Jr. No Republican candidates have filed to run for the office. District 5 includes Flossmoor.