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Campaign money and accusations fly in Cook County court clerk race


The contest to run the oft-overlooked chamber responsible for managing cases in the nation’s second-largest court system could become one of the most expensive races of the March 19 primary.

Democrat Mariyana Spyropoulos, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Iris Martinez, loaned her campaign $875,000 on Valentine’s Day, allowing both candidates to accept unlimited campaign contributions ahead of Election Day. Martinez has about $128,000 in cash between his three main campaign funds.

Meanwhile, the incumbent clerk defended her first term at the helm of the office, which she described as the “wild, wild west” when she took over from controversial former clerk Dorothy Brown, who ran the office amid the pandemic in 2020. 20 years.

Martinez defended his record at a hearing before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board on Thursday, citing improvements in customer service, progress in digitizing a system that has long relied on carbon paper and hard copies, and trying to clear a backlog of expunging criminal records as his main accomplishments. .

Earlier Thursday, he cut the ribbon on a new expungement department on the fifth floor of the Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue, where the public can turn in paperwork and get information about whether they can try the procedures. case records were expunged and sealed.

The clerk’s office staff said the office is also creating a “global filing” system that will allow the public to apply for expungement at any court location. Previously, people had to apply to the branch court where the case was filed. The changes also eliminate some filing fees, staff said.

But Spyropoulos, who now serves as a commissioner on the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board of directors, told editorial board members in a separate session Tuesday that Martinez’s modernization efforts have fallen short and that the incumbent’s ethical lapses are little more than an extension of the scandals. Brown’s tenure.


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