(WGN-AM)- Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown today announced her candidacy for Cook County Board president, joining a growing Democratic field that already includes incumbent Todd Stroger and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th).

In her announcement, Brown said she "came out against the current sales-tax level passed by" the Cook County Board last year, when it upped that levy by a penny-on-the-dollar, touching off widespread criticism of Stroger. But before today, during nearly two years of debate on the sales-tax increase issue, Brown repeatedly declined to weigh in.

Brown made her announcement in a press release and planned to meet individually with reporters later in the day. First elected to her current post in 2000, she has twice been re-elected, but she was soundly defeated by Mayor Richard Daley when she sought his office in 2007.

Brown recently said she would stop accepting cash birthday gifts from employees after learning the Tribune was going to publish a story about the long-running practice in her administration.

Others mulling a run in next February's primary are U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Sheriff Tom Dart, Assessor James Houlihan, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Terence O'Brien, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

The field of potential candidates has grown in recent weeks since Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) said he was not going to seek the job of leading county government.

Stroger was placed on the 2006 ballot by Democratic operatives after his late father and 12-year incumbent John Stroger was incapacitated by a stroke. He has suffered from frequent bad publicity during his term.

Most recently, he's been defending his administration in the face of a patronage scandal involving a former steakhouse busboy with a short resume and long rap sheet who Stroger hired for a $60,000-a-year post in his administration.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune's Hal Dardick on Clout Street.

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