Ten members of the Cook County Democratic Party held a series of votes behind closed doors at the Carleton of Oak Park Hotel, before settling on Stamps, said state Senate President Don Harmon, who chaired the meeting as Democratic committeeperson of Oak Park.
All six candidates got to plead their case to fill Johnson’s old role as a Cook County commissioner, representing parts of the West Side of Chicago and the near western suburbs.
"Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a philosophy, and that philosophy is that there is enough for everyone to get some of what they need and some of what they want," Stamps said when it was her turn to make her case. "I believe by working together we can make that a reality for so many people who have been disillusioned and lost hope in our community."
Harmon said five of the six hopefuls received significant support in the first round of voting.
"All six candidates had support in deliberations. It went several rounds before we reached a consensus," Harmon said, adding that the final vote was unanimous.
Stamps is an administrator of new teacher development for the CTU. She held teaching positions for nearly two decades before that. She is the daughter of the late civil rights activist Marion Stamps.
Stamps will serve in Johnson’s vacated Cook County Board seat effective immediately until December 2024. But she will have to run for reelection in the March 2024 primary to keep her seat past the year.
"Solidarity is our only superpower. I am honored to be in lockstep with you to create a better, stronger, safer West Side and first district," Stamps told the committeepersons.
Each committeeperson, representing a different portion of Johnson’s former district, held a weighted vote according to how popular Johnson was among voters in their respective area in the 2022 election.
Some said they worked alongside Stamps for many years.
"I’ve been knowing you for all your life," Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) told her. "We appreciate everything you’ve done in working with young people in the community."
Others put old rivalries behind them.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), fended off a challenge for her council seat from Tara Stamps in 2015, but cheered for her on Tuesday.
"She’s not running against me, so I’m supporting her because she’s a member of the 37th Ward and also because she is a hard worker," Mitts said.
Others making their pitches for the seat included the Rev. Ira Acree, Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins, Tommie Johnson of Chicago, Zerlina Smith-Members of Chicago, and Claiborne Wade of Forest Park.
Johnson could not immediately be reached for comment on the Democratic leaders’ vote to fill his old seat.
The CTU issued a statement, saying, "We celebrate Commissioner Stamps’ dedication to our communities that brought her first to the classroom and now to expand her service to the people of the first district of Cook County. Whether it be now or months down the road, we know the students, educators and families of this county will have a true advocate, organizer and leader in Stamps."