The daughter of a Mexican immigrant waiter and seamstress mother, Anita Alvarez seemingly came out of nowhere in the blood sport of Cook County politics to win the Democratic primary for state's attorney.
No one was more surprised by her sudden political rise than the candidate herself. But she said Wednesday that who she is and where she came from make her ideally suited to challenge what she calls a "good ol' boy mentality" in the prosecutor's office.
Fresh from her upset win over five men in Tuesday's election, Alvarez spoke about the need to hire and promote more minority and female prosecutors to bridge the gulf between local law enforcement and communities, especially young people who mistrust the authorities.
"So many times we think of the prosecutor as this stereotypical man, a male white for that matter ... always playing hardball," said Alvarez, who has risen to become the No. 3 official under retiring State?s Atty. Richard Devine. "I'm living proof that that's not true, that you don't have to be that way. You can be, for lack of better words, softer.
"You can do this job and you can be tough when you have to be tough in court, but I think you have to have a soft side, you have to be sensitive [because] you are dealing with people who are experiencing some of the most horrific things."
She's even been called a sell-out for prosecuting Latina/os. A woman who rose from the streets of Chicago to become educated and most likely the next State's Attorney of one of the biggest counties in the USA and she's a sell-out? I don't like to dwell on the stereotypes of my people, but this whole being educated = selling out thing just is such bullshit. Add to that the audacity of her actually doing her job and prosecuting people despite sharing a common culture. *sigh* I know she can't clean everything up in the office that allowed Burge to torture innocent men, but I have some hope that maybe, just maybe she has learned from the past.
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