Brian Sleet, a longtime Chicago political consultant who managed Kim Foxx’s successful run for Cook County state’s attorney, has died at age 41, officials said late Wednesday.
“There are no words to describe the loss that I and so many throughout Chicagoland are feeling right now by the passing of Brian Sleet,” Foxx said in a statement. “I would not be where I am without Brian’s guidance while I began my first run for public office. May he rest peacefully and let’s uplift his loved ones in our prayers during this difficult time.”
The circumstances of the longtime Chatham resident’s death were unknown Wednesday night.
Sleet advised Ald. Roderick Sawyer during his successful 6th Ward race in 2011 and went on to serve as Sawyer’s chief of staff until 2016. That’s when Sleet led Foxx’s successful bid to unseat then-Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
“We have lost a brother, a quiet leader, devoted to the people and the cause of democracy,” Sawyer said.
Sleet also served as a senior adviser to Ald. Sophia King (4th).
Since then, he had worked as a public affairs consultant with the firm Kivvit, where he was a spokesman for the Obama Foundation as it sought City Council approval for the planned presidential library in Jackson Park.
Brian Sleet | Kivvit photo
“The main reason I am here is so that people know it’s not a done deal,” Sleet told congregants during a January service at the Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Woodlawn, as part of an Obama Foundation effort to lock down support for the library.
“A lot of times people will just assume, ‘Hey, they made the announcement, it’s coming, there’s no problems and we can just sit back and wait for things to happen.’ That’s not the case,” Sleet said then, “…and the people who are against this — and there are people who are against this — they’re speaking up.”
The Whitney Young graduate studied sociology at Dartmouth College and earned a law degree from the University of Illinois before he went on to work for the U.S. Census and as a staffer for ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
According to his Facebook page, Sleet had just celebrated his 41st birthday. On Christmas Eve, he wrote: “I appreciate all of the people I have met on this crazy journey called life.”
Sleet also served on the board of Chicago Votes, a grassroots political organization that was his “pride and joy,” Sawyer said.
“Brian was especially committed to training and mentoring young black organizers and political operatives,” Sawyer said.
City Treasurer Kurt Summers called Sleet “one of the smartest people and best political minds I’ve ever known, but most importantly, I’ve never met anyone that understood and cared for his community as much as Brian did. He was a true champion for everyday people and I count myself amongst the many who will miss him dearly.”