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Let’s look local

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* The Sun-Times headline reads: Rosemont rarity: A real race for mayor.

There’s no doubt that Rosemont mayoral candidate Joe Watrach is running a far more visible campaign than has been seen in a long time, if ever, in that town. He’s also pretty feisty, listing $5 million a year in government contracts for people with the name “Stephens” on his website and telling the CS-T…

“Donald E. Stephens made sure that while he took care of his family, all of Rosemont was his family,” Watrach said. “He was making sure the village residents were happy. Before, Rosemont had an endless supply of money. Now we don’t. The difference was his dad never cut the village employees’ health care.”

Watrach argues that before Stephens cuts employees’ health care, he should cut other parts of the budget first, such as contracts to his family members or the $1.3 million for landscaping that goes largely to Krimson Valley Landscaping, which has donated generously to Stephens’ political fund.

“The reason Bradley didn’t want to cut [the] flowers [contract] is they have given him $50,000 over two years,” Watrach said. “In two years, he has raised a million dollars for his campaign fund, all from contractors who hold no-bid contracts at Rosemont.”

But is Watrach viable?

Maybe not so much.

The State Board of Elections website shows that Watrach has raised about $3,200 since he began campaigning.

* Moving on to Niles

Nick Blase left the helm of this suburb after 47 years as mayor when he was convicted of taking $420,000 in kickbacks from an insurance company to which he steered businesses that wanted to set up shop in Niles.

Running with Blase’s endorsement to succeed him is Acting Mayor Robert Callero, a retired accountant. Callero got some static for creating an ethics committee in a closed meeting that Attorney General Lisa Madigan said violated the state’s Open Meetings Act. He was also criticized when Niles employees used village equipment to tape testimonials for Blase to be used at his trial. Callero said he agreed that was inappropriate and said he was unaware it was happening.

Challenging Callero are: Luigi Nitti, Carol Harczak, Trustee Kim Sychowski Biederman — who runs with the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and other local Democrats — and Krzysztof “Chris” Hanusiak, a Polish immigrant who owns a Royal Kitchen and Bath Cabinets store.

That Callero ethics committee thing is hilarious. Biederman is the wife of former House Dem staffer Rob Biederman, which the acting mayor is attempting to use against her

Callero said that Biederman would use the job to “build a political machine.” Her husband, Rob Biederman, who is running her campaign, once was a political operative for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, and he now is a public relations consultant. “He will really run Niles,” a Callero strategist said.

I’m so sure. What an insult to Biederman to suggest that her husband will be the guy behind the throne.

Ms. Biederman also has some other bigtime support

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-9th, state Sens. Dan Kotowski, D-33rd, and Ira Silverstein, D-8th, and state Rep. Lou Lang, D-16th, have all endorsed Biederman’s candidacy, according to her campaign. […]

State Representative Michael MacAuliffe is the lone Republican on Biederman’s list thus far, supporting Biederman because he believes she will keep taxes low, according to a written statement attributed to him by her campaign.

That’s quite a list.

* On to Peoria

The race for Peoria mayor features the incumbent against a challenger who, even if he wins, cannot serve because of a prior felony conviction.

OK. Nevermind.

* Are there any interesting local races in your neck of the woods?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - bored now - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:32 pm:

    The race in Hazel Crest is probably the most competitive down here in the South Suburbs. Both Trustee Vernard Alsberry and current Mayor Donaldson have signs out in their race to be mayor. Both men have been knocking on doors, and the challenger has even scored the endorsements of state Rep, Will Davis, and the firefighters.

    Given the credibility of the challenge, one can expect Donaldson to get extraordinarily nasty in this last week. He’s sitting on a pot of gold, but his opponents are sitting on a couple of decent issues: a 300% pay raise that Donaldson pushed through and a broken promise to make village government more transparent.

    Personally, I expect Donaldson to be bailed out by the Welch team, which has a few candidates up for Rich township positions, but otherwise doesn’t appear to face real opposition this time…

  2. - NW suburbs - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:35 pm:

    In the Rosemont, Niles neighborhood, the Mayoral races in Park Ridge and Des Plaines are actually interesting. Park Ridge’s recently got nasty with a web site about the challenger’s divorce. Des Plaines has two Aldermen and the GOP Township Committeeman.

  3. - Been There - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:42 pm:

    Oak Lawn has the incumbent, Heilmann, being chanllenged by Hurkes. Hurkes is the ex-chief of staff for Lipinski. Lots of signs but Oak Lawn is almost entirely in Lipinski’s district. Many of his supporters will put up a sign for Hurkes in order to not tick off the Lipper clan. But many of those people actually can’t stand Hurkes.

  4. - Anon - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:46 pm:

    I wonder what is holding up ex-mayor Blase’s sentencing. He pleaded guilty last summer, and resigned at that time. Are the feds trying to get him to turn on others? He is in his 80s, so the longer they delay, the less likely he’ll serve any time.

  5. - Anon - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:49 pm:

    This guy in Rosemont is a disgrunteled valet. So does parking cars qualify one to be a serious contender against a seasoned Mayor running a very suvvessful town? I think not.

  6. - Anon - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:53 pm:

    Correction, Blase resigned in the summer, pleaded guilty in the fall.

  7. - ChampaignDweller - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 1:03 pm:

    There is a three-way race for Mayor in Urbana. We recently had an issue regarding the City Clerk apparently forgetting, not knowing, or something, about how to place the candidates on the ballot (it requires a lottery). Early voting started and has now been suspended until they can re-print the ballots as the result of the Clerk and the current Mayor giving in because one of the other candidates filed suit (you can’t make this stuff up).

  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    Sleepy little River Forest has been in a battle royale for two years centered on retiring village President Frank Paris. One of his main detractors, Steve Hoke, is running for president against John Rigas, an OPRFHS board member.

    Detractors have decried Paris’ control of the village board, autocratic style and holdings in Amalgamated Bank, which does most of the village bond work.

    Meetings have been so pitched they hired an outside “Dr. Phil” who tried to help them get along, then quit in disgust.

    A highlight, or lowlight, might have been when old Ed Hanrahan (he of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark infamy) confronted Paris at a village board meeting over Amalgamated, and Paris called him a broken-down drunk.

  9. - carbon deforestation - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 1:21 pm:

    Kim Sychowski Biederman is going to win that race, she is terrific. For one of her opponents to claim that her husband is controlling her is hilarious to me. Clearly that guy is not married.

    Elmhurst has an open mayor’s seat, competitive race.

  10. - Lawdude - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 1:50 pm:

    Anyone hear anything on the Bensenville Mayor’s race?

  11. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 1:59 pm:

    Proviso Township has a bevy of interesting races.

    Township supervisor: Rep. Karen Yarbrough is backing a White male Republican (in fact the Republican committeeman) over a Black woman from Maywood who comes out of the Yarbrough camp. Yarbrough has lost many of her supporters who don’t currently have gov’t jobs.

    Proviso Township High Schools BOE: Chris Welch has antagonized many in the community. The issue that has crystallized things for many was spending over $50,000 (and counting) to pay his personal legal bills. Welch is defending a civil suit in which he is alleged to have defamed the school district’s former attorneys in an unrelated manner.

    In a twist, Yarbrough (who Welch challenged in 2006) seems to have made some sort of deal with Welch. She invited him to speak to her township Democratic organization. Yarbrough excluded the media from the event.

    Prediction: Welch will use the buildings and grounds workers from Proviso to support Yarbrough in the 2010 primary. Welch will then be looking for Yarbrough’s help when Welch challenges Peraica for the county board in the general.

    Maywood village president: Henderson Yarbrough, the husband of Karen Yarbrough, is facing a determined challenge by Grady Rivers (out of the Eugene Moore camp) and independent Demetrius Davis.

    Melrose Park village president: Jesse Martinez is getting major union help in his challenge to Ron Serpico. Martinez’s campaign is feeling confident because Ron Serpico was out knocking on doors in the Latino community last Saturday. Martinez’s campaign figures if Serpico is risking a heart attack he must be scared he’s gonna lose.

    And the school board race in District 88 (Bellwood, Stone Park and western Melrose) has turned litigious. Ron Anderson, a Welch ally, has sued claiming that he’s been defamed about residency and criminal involvement.

    And Broadview Mayor: Henry Vicenik is being challenged by two candidates. Judy Brown-Marino is the former publisher of West-View News and suspects Vicenik has been up to no good and hopes to take advantage of anger with cuts in services, especially the size of the police force.

  12. - phocion - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    Good local analysis, Carl. But is Welch in Peraica’s county commissioner district?

  13. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 3:30 pm:

    Welch lives in Hillside. Hillside is in Peraica’s district.

  14. - Politics can sometimes suck... - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 4:08 pm:

    In Park Ridge there is a hotly contested race and a previous poster noted that the incumbent’s campaign recently put up web site dedicated to the “truth” about the challenger. And, yes, it does publicize the challengers previously sealed divorce papers. Politic are tough, no doubt, but these people went waaaaaay too far in publicizing a then 7 year old’s psychological assessment. The Park Ridge Mayor’s job pays $12,000 annually. It’s amazing how far some people will go…
    Prediction… the splatter back will hurt the incubent more than the web site will hurt the challenger.

  15. - One of the 35 - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 4:52 pm:

    Murphy is unopposed in Woodridge, Broda has token opposition in Lisle, and Rahn faces a write in candidate in Westmont. Three good suburban Mayors for the tough econiomic times we face.

  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 9:48 pm:

    This guy in Rosemont is a disgrunteled valet. So does parking cars qualify one to be a serious contender against a seasoned Mayor running a very suvvessful town? I think not.

    Yet another intellectually inept shill. I hope can you read better than you spell. You might go in to the booth and vote for the wrong candidate.

    It seems the only thing that get’s thrown Joe’s way is his inexperience. Yet Brad has implemented 2 of his issues to date. It looks to me like he’s heading in the right direction.

    Why is it every time Joe’s name comes up, libelous claims are made, and the issues are left out?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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