Morrison and Cerneglia discuss the need to expand mental health services in Cook County

15th Cook County Democratic Commissioner Kevin Morrison of Mount Prospect and Republican contender Chuck Cerneglia of Hoffman Estates shared their views on the need for expanded mental health services from the county — in part in response to violence like the July 4 shooting in the Heights. Garden in which seven people were killed

In an interview with the Daily Herald Editorial Board, the two candidates addressed the role a county could play in mental health after disagreeing over whether it was appropriate to own an AR-15 rifle.

Morrison said that the general availability of military weapons designed to kill people is wrong.

Cerneglia described them as sporting weapons whose responsible owners are now threatened with losing their rights due to what he calls a mental health problem and the failure of state police to overturn a Highland Park suspect’s right to own a firearm.

“I think you need county mental health services, but it all starts at home, too,” Cerneglia said.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health – including hiding children in school – also contributed to the need for more mental health services.

“But law enforcement can only do so much,” Cerneglia added. “You have to look at people’s tracking records, and in this particular case, if I’m not mistaken, I think the police were called to that house two or three times because of the local situations that were happening. And it wasn’t followed up.”

Morrison said his advocacy for greater mental health resources saw results during his first term.

“I’ve been a supporter of expanding mental health resources since I launched my campaign in 2018,” he said. “We’re not doing nearly enough anywhere in this country when it comes to ensuring easy access to mental health and behavioral resources.”


In January, Morrison said, he created the effort that led to the creation of the first Department of Mental and Behavioral Health in Cook County, which has just appointed its first division chief to lead the next steps over the coming months.

“I’m really excited about the work that’s going on,” Morrison said. “Over the next few years, once fully operational, the goal is to close every gap that exists in mental health and behavior at the county level.

“If we can achieve that, we will be the first county in the country to do so.”

The 15th District in Cook County is located in Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, South Barrington, Palatine, Des Plaines, and Elgin.

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