Pat Carey, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s Special Assistant for Government Affairs, is leaving his role for a new position at McGuireWoods LLP. His final day was June 1. Carey was Preckwinkle’s go-between with commissioners, and yesterday they took turns thanking him for his tireless work.
Commissioner Robert Steele joked he hoped Carey wasn’t getting poached by Airbnb, who recently hired 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns to head up midwest lobbying efforts. “They’re a client,” Carey responded, smiling.
His replacement wasn’t announced at Wednesday’s meeting, but is rumored to be Vasyl Markus, an experienced political hand who has worked on hospital organizing for SEIU, as legal counsel to House Speaker Mike Madigan, and more recently as a legislative liaison with the Illinois Department of Revenue and Director of Special Projects at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.
Brian Hamer, Preckwinkle’s current Chief of Staff, also hails from the Illinois Department of Revenue, where he served as director for 12 years. He joined Preckwinkle’s team at the end of March after another another high profile exit: Preckwinkle’s Chief of Staff, Tasha Green Cruzat. She announced in February she’d leave her county post to become president of the education advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children.
Carey started his public service career as an intern in Mayor Richard M. Daley’s office, where he moved up to Assistant to the Mayor. He shifted to the county side in 2011 as Assistant to the Chief of the Bureau of Economic Development, and was promoted to Preckwinkle’s team in 2013, where he was responsible for carrying out the president’s legislative agenda with commissioners.
“He’s a major loss for them,” one Cook County staffer told Aldertrack. “This loss may be more difficult than they even realize.”
Another said, “Whether our offices agreed or disagreed, we always knew Pat Carey would be honest with us and would work toward a common solution. Everyone is going to miss him because he, more than anyone in the administration, demonstrated a willingness to hear out board members’ concerns and ideas and take them seriously. There’s a concern that might change.”