those who think that suburban Cook County politics
is a boring, somewhat soporific, enterprise, think
again. On April 9, when 120 municipalities and 30
townships hold elections, there will be an
abundance of comedy, duplicity, mendacity and
the past, the operative descriptive phrase has
been "trickle up," meaning that
ambitious would-be politicians seek suburban
municipal or township office as a steppingstone to
greater glory, such as legislative, congressional
or county office. They rarely succeed. Other than
former Des Plaines mayor Marty Moylan, who was
elected a state representative in 2012, and
outgoing Elmwood Park village president Pete
Silvestri, who was elected a county commissioner
in 1994, suburban officials usually progress only
to be ex-suburban officials.
"trickle out" and hold second offices.
Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens, who is a Leyden
Township supervisor, and River Grove Mayor
Marilynn May, who is the Leyden Township clerk,
are retiring from their township jobs.
"trickle up" from trustee or alderman is
common. Two aldermen and a former mayor are vying
to succeed Moylan in Des Plaines. Two trustees are
running for Niles mayor, as are a trustee in
Harwood Heights and a former mayor and library
board president in Lincolnwood.
year there's "trickle down," meaning
more luminous officials are downsizing. Tom
Benigno, Illinois' clout-heavy deputy secretary of
state and Jesse White's chief of staff since 1999,
is running for Norridge mayor. Skip Saviano, a
defeated 20-year state representative, is running
to succeed his ally Silvestri in Elmwood Park.
Many people think they have a good-for-nothing
mayor. If Benigno wins and replaces retiring
one-term incumbent Ron Oppedisano, he will be a
for-nothing mayor. Benigno has promised to serve
without pay. However, that might not include
family and friends.
is a powerful man in state government. He earns
$156,676, and he runs an office with 4,753
employees. Every problem flows through him to
White, and every decision flows through him to the
office's underlings. Benigno's wife is on the
Secretary of State's Office payroll as a
$2,000-a-month secretary. His aunt, a cousin,
three children and a nephew were on the office's
payroll over the past decade. His son Anthony is
on the county assessor's payroll as part of a 2011
trade-off in which White hired Cook County
Assessor Joe Berrios' nephew.
Benigno wants to expand his horizons and his
is a sleepy little northwest suburban village with
a 2010 census population of 14,572, a 2013 budget
of $15.5 million and 150 employees. Longtime mayor
(1951 to 1998) Joe Sieb was a nominal Republican,
but the Martwick machine, run by Democratic
Committeeman Robert Martwick, dominates the
township and Norridge. When Mayor Earl Field died
in 2009, Oppedisano was picked by Martwick and
elected without opposition. The machine's 2013
candidate is village Treasurer James Chmura,
running on Martwick's Norridge Improvement Party
makes the machine and every village employee
nervous. He may choose to serve without pay, but
nobody expects the multitudinous "Benigno
Clan," once on the Norridge payroll, to work
for free. A total of 1,735 votes were cast in
Norridge's 14 precincts in the 2009 election. Few
doubt that Benigno can "persuade"
100-plus of his office's workers to troop through
Norridge and work those precincts on his behalf
before April 9.
paying his workers $200 a day," Chmura said
of Benigno. "He's getting financial support
from White, Jim DeLeo and Mike Madigan. We are not
going to let outsiders take over Norridge."
not endorsing anyone," said Rob Martwick of
Norridge, the committeeman's son, who was elected
a Democratic state representative in November. Is
he under Madigan's thumb? Will the Benigno/White/Madigan/DeLeo
machine supersede the Martwick machine?
Park: Welcome back, Skippy! A 20-year state
representative, Republican Skip Saviano is an
integral cog in the Silvestri Elmwood Park
machine, had a direct conduit into the 36th Ward
Banks/DeLeo Democratic machine, having once been
an aide to state Senator Jim DeLeo, and was given
a free pass, with no opposition, by Democratic
House Speaker Mike Madigan in every election from
2002 to 2010.
the Banks/DeLeo machine vaporized in 2011, and
Saviano was no longer obsequious toward Madigan.
The speaker recruited Kathleen Willis, a former
Republican and Addison school board member,
chopped Elmwood Park out of Saviano's district,
spent $700,000, and beat Saviano by 1,351 votes.
Saviano wants Silvestri's job, but he faces tough
opposition from Joe Ponzio. "Skippy's no
shoo-in," a Ponzio campaign strategist said.
"He's on the rebound. He needs a job."
The strategist accused Saviano of
"abandoning" Elmwood Park in 2012 to run
for re-election in a district stretching west to
Elmhurst, Wood Dale, Addison and Bensenville.
"If he won, he'd have moved to
Elmhurst," the aide said. Elmwood Park is now
in the House district of Democrat Camille Lilly of
the 37th Ward. "Why didn't Skippy use his
$700,000 to run against her?" the source
the past, 36th Ward precinct captains, along with
Elmwood Park job holders, were enough to keep the
Silvestri machine in power. He was unopposed in
2009, getting 1,789 votes, and in 2011 Silvestri's
trustee candidates got 5,815 votes to the Ponzio
slate's 4,396. "Now there's chaos,"
Ponzio's aide said.
Ridge: "Mayor No" knows best. That
describes Dave Schmidt, who was elected mayor in
2009 and who is renowned as grouchy, grumpy and
has a quaint, if somewhat antiquated idea. He
believes that government shouldn't spend what it
doesn't have. It doesn't borrow. It doesn't hike
taxes. It lives within its means. Schmidt believes
that during rough economic times his job is to cut
non-essential expenditures and to veto any pay or
an outside-the-box idea. Who would have ever
thought of it? Certainly not such luminaries as
Barack Obama or Pat Quinn. Some might call
Schmidt's approach fiscal sanity. Others would
call it political suicide.
City Council screams about his so-called
obstructionism, but voters seem reconciled to the
necessity of a "Mayor No." Park Ridge's
tax base is primarily residential, property values
are still declining, and the downtown business
core is stagnant. The only source of new revenue
is property taxes. Schmidt, a Republican, faces
self-styled independent Larry Ryles. "He's a
nobody," one area Democratic office holder
said of Ryles, conceding that the Democrats have
folded up shop in both Park Ridge and in the
2009 Schmidt beat Republican Mayor Howard Frimark
4,073-3,313. A lot of Democrats voted for Schmidt
because they disliked Frimark, and now they detest
Schmidt. Hard-core conservative Republicans love
him. The situation is fluid, and the election is a
referendum on Schmidt.
Plaines: With one-termer Moylan gone to
Springfield, a three-way battle for the succession
is raging. Running are 26-year-old Alderman Matt
Bogusz, who was elected in 2009 and who is
endorsed by Moylan, Alderman Mark Walsten, who was
elected in 2007, and former mayor (1999 to 2009)
Tony Arredia. "It's a simple choice between
the old (meaning Arredia) and the new (meaning
Bogusz)," Moylan said.
to sources in Des Plaines, Arredia's record will
be hashed over, with the travails of Tom Becker,
Bill Schneider and Jim Dvorak exhumed. Walsten
will position himself as the independent, Bogusz
as the reformer, and Arredia as the repository of
experience. All the contenders have a base of
roughly 30 to 35 percent of the vote.
won in 2009 with 4,139 votes (43.2 percent of the
total) in a turnout of 7,666. Arredia was
unopposed in 2005 and got 5,523 votes. The winner
will be the "No Tony" candidate, likely
Niles has had two mayors in the past 52 years.
With the cloud of disgraced Nick Blase, who was
the mayor from 1961 to 2009, fading, and with
incumbent Bob Callero retiring, two "Polski
Krolewicz" ("Polish Princes") are
running for the job. They are Andy Przybylo, who
is the part-owner of the White Eagle restaurant
and who has been a trustee since 1989, and Chris
Hanusiak, who got 1,062 votes (20 percent of the
total) for mayor in 2009 and who was elected
trustee in 2011.
the Blase machine's candidate, won in 2009 with
2,602 votes (48.9 percent of the total) in a
turnout of 5,324; he has endorsed Przybylo. Two of
the other four trustees have endorsed Hanusiak.
Przybylo is favored.
Heights: Loyalty, fealty, integrity. Those traits
may be valued in the U.S. Armed Forces, but
Harwood Heights is not Fort Bragg. Republican
Arlene Jezierny beat embattled Democratic mayor
Peggy Fuller in 2009 by 1,027-756, getting 57.6
percent of the vote in a turnout of 1,783. On her
ticket for trustee were Jimmy Mougolias and Les
Szlendak. They both turned on her, and Mougolias
is now opposing her.
an opportunist," Jezierny said of Mougolias.
"I've done a good job as mayor." Fiscal
issues, including the village's role in approving
a Mariano's Fresh Market store, will be uppermost.
Compared to Fuller, Jezierny is a pillar of
stability, but since 2001 the mayor's job has been
a revolving door.
Quitting is tough, and unquitting is tougher.
Mayor Gerry Turry, who was elected in 2005 and who
was a cinch for re-election, announced his
retirement in 2012. Into the 2013 race jumped
former mayor (2000 to 2005) Peter Moy, on the
Forward Vision Party ticket, and library board
president Georgia Talaganis, on the Independent
Party of Lincolnwood ticket. Turry, who has been
an effective and popular mayor, reconsidered and
jumped back into the race as an independent. If
Turry wins, it will be difficult and costly.