bar code on Pete Silvestri's political shelf life
is nearing expiration. As a Cook County
commissioner from the 9th District since 1994, he
faces a difficult re-election campaign in 2014. As
the Elmwood Park village president since 1989, he
faces a tough re-election race in 2013. If he
loses in 2013, he's toast in 2014.
Silvestri is an obscure but reasonably powerful
political fixture, his durability being wholly
attributable to his membership in the vaunted, but
now vanished, "Northwest Side Nonaggression
Pact." The pact was made by an elite and
eclectic group of Democratic and Republican
politicians from Chicago's 41st and 36th wards,
plus the political powers in Rosemont, Elmwood
Park, Schiller Park and Franklin Park. They
collaborated, over decades stretching back to the
1970s, to keep themselves in office.
how it worked:
glue was the late Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens, the
Leyden Township Republican committeeman. Stephens
died in 2007, and he was succeeded by his son
Bradley, who now is the mayor, the committeeman
and a township supervisor. The aforementioned
suburbs, plus River Grove and Northlake, are in
west suburban Leyden Township. The past and
present "Boss" Stephens' job was to
ensure that they had Republican mayors.
Rosemont, Stephens had a fund-raising base among
prosperous restaurant and business interests and a
direct conduit into the gambling industry, which
coveted a Rosemont casino. In Springfield,
Stephens' go-to guys were state Senator Jim DeLeo,
a 36th Ward Democrat, state Representatives Mike
McAuliffe, a 41st Ward Republican, and Skip
Saviano, an Elmwood Park Republican, and, until he
lost in 2004, state Representative Ralph
Capparelli, a 41st Ward Democrat.
key pact adherents were 36th Ward Alderman Bill
Banks, a DeLeo ally, the Democratic committeeman
and the chairman of the City Council Zoning
Committee, and 41st Ward Alderman Brian Doherty, a
Republican and a McAuliffe ally. Also part and
parcel of this big, happy family was Silvestri,
who provided access to county government and who
is longtime buddy of Saviano, a onetime aide to
Democrat DeLeo. Silvestri and Saviano (the
"S&S Boys") were integral to the
Leyden Township Stephens machine, and both were
tight allies of Doherty and McAuliffe (the
"D&M Boys"). When the "S&S
Boys" needed help to win in Elmwood Park,
they called on Banks and DeLeo (the "B&D
Boys") to send in precinct troops. Is this
getting confusing? Perhaps they could be grouped
as "Papa Don & the
over. Banks retired as the alderman in 2010, and
he prevailed on the mayor to appoint his
"chief of staff," John Rice, who really
was Banks' driver, as his replacement. Rice
proceeded to ignominiously lose in 2011 to Nick
Sposato, who now is the Democratic committeeman.
DeLeo retired as a senator in 2010, and Doherty
sought the seat, but while the "B&D
Boys" had no qualms about aiding McAuliffe,
DeLeo, who is close to Senate President John
Cullerton, blanched at giving his seat to a
Republican, so the 36th Ward delivered a healthy
margin for Democrat John Mulroe, of the 41st Ward,
who beat Doherty with 55.4 percent of the vote.
some unknown reason, Banks and DeLeo are now
estranged. What's left of their organization is
captained by Dominic Longo, a political operative
for hire who runs Citizens for Better Government.
Expect Longo to make big bucks, and make a big
effort, to save Silvestri in 2013 and 2014.
the 41st Ward, Doherty retired and was replaced as
alderman in 2011 by Mary O'Connor, a Mulroe ally
and also the Democratic committeeman. For years a
Democratic wilderness dominated by the
"D&M Boys," the 41st Ward now has
two capable Democrats, and McAuliffe must fend for
himself. Silvestri, who shared an office with
McAuliffe and Doherty, suffered two huge political
blows: He's lost his political base in the north
(41st Ward) part of the 9th District, and the
evaporation of the "B&D Boys" in
next-door Galewood and Montclare means that he
won't have several hundred workers swarming into
Elmwood Park in 2013.
for Saviano, the consummate Springfield insider,
the Madigan-Cullerton remap put his Elmwood Park
base, along with Franklin Park and Schiller Park,
in Chicago state Representative Camille Lilly's
78th District, which is dominated by Oak Park.
Saviano is running in a new district centered on
Northlake, Bensenville, Wood Dale and Addison,
which have large Hispanic populations. He will
now it's "Big Brad & S Boy (Saviano), S
Boy (Silvestri) and M Boy (McAuliffe)." The
rest are history. The area's legendary 40-year
nonaggression pact is over. Every chummy
politician still in office is adrift. The
O'Connor-Mulroe bunch are angling to take out
McAuliffe and Silvestri in 2014. Independents in
Leyden Township are plotting to oust Stephens'
mayors in 2013. Alderman John Arena (45th), having
cleansed the ward of the remnants of the Levar-Lyons
machine, is now allied with Democratic state
representative candidate Rob Martwick of Norridge,
and their 2014 goal is to oust Silvestri as a
Rosemont, "Boss" Brad Stephens has
organized a Super PAC, seeding it with $300,000.
It will be used to elect his Leyden Township
candidates in the April 2013 municipal races. His
"slate" of incumbents includes Silvestri,
Anna Montana of Schiller Park, Barrett Pedersen of
Franklin Park, who is the township's Democratic
committeeman, Marilynn May of River Grove and
Jeffrey Sherwin of Northlake. Stephen's has his
own "Nonaggression Pact" -- although
some might tab it a "Surrender Pact" --
with Pedersen: Stephens lets Pedersen keep his job
in Franklin Park, Pedersen doesn't run Democrats
for township office, and Pedersen doesn't meddle
in other municipalities.
how contested races are developing:
has a population of 4,224, with 1,291 registered
voters. The town was incorporated in 1956, and the
elder Stephens was the mayor for 41 years. It's a
family business, with one son mayor, another
public safety chief and another head of the
authority that runs the 840,000-square-foot
Stephens Convention Center. Brad Stephens was
elected in 2009 by 759-82, with 90.2 percent of
the vote. He is unbeatable in 2013.
Park has a population of 25,405, with 12,384
registered voters. Silvestri was elected village
president in 1989, concluding the battle to
succeed the iconic Elmer Conti, who held the job
for 32 years, from 1953 to 1985. Conti
participated in the practice of "double
dipping" -- holding two "part-time"
elected public jobs. He was a state representative
for 12 years, from 1956 to 1962 and from 1976 to
continues that tradition, but a lawsuit filed by
defeated county commissioner Tony Peraica
challenges its legality. Peraica lost in 2010 to
Jeff Tobolski, who also is the mayor of McCook. If
Peraica succeeds, Silvestri would be forced to
choose one job or the other.
time, Silvestri's grip on Elmwood Park has eroded.
He got 2,860 votes unopposed in 2001, 1,585 votes
unopposed in 2005 and 1,789 votes unopposed in
2009. In the trustee contest in 2011, Silvestri's
three United Party candidates got 5,815 total
votes, to 4,396 votes for the Neighborhood Voice
slate. That's an unimpressive 56.9 percent
victory, considering that the winners outspent the
losers 7-1 and Longo and the "B&D
Boys" minions were everywhere.
is great discontent" with Silvestri, said Joe
Ponzio, a spokesman for the dissidents.
"There are no-bid contracts, tax hikes, water
bill increases and voter fraud scandals."
Either Tony Del Santo or Phil Marcantelli, 2011
losers for trustee, will oppose Silvestri in 2013.
If Silvestri is ousted, his county board seat
moves from serious jeopardy to "it's
Park has a population of 19,434, with 9,924
registered voters. Hispanic population boomed from
1995 to 2005, but it has crested at about 38
percent, most being non-citizens. The organization
of Democrat Jack Williams, who was a state
representative from 1973 to 1981, dominated from
1969 to 1996, and Republican Dan Pritchett was the
mayor from 1996 to 2009. Fatigue with Pritchett,
coupled with Pedersen's charges of nepotism and
contract favoritism, led to a tight 2009 election.
Pedersen won with 1,482 votes (38.8 percent of the
total cast), to 1,322 (34.6 percent) for Pritchett
and 1,020 (26.7 percent) for Bill Ruhl. "The
deal was this," one Franklin Park insider
said. "Brad recruited Barrett to run for
mayor to divide the anti-Pritchett vote and to
beat Ruhl, but then Barrett decided he wanted to
be mayor and beat Pritchett."
mayor, Pedersen has not been "Mr.
Fix-It." Water billings are a mess, and he
blames Pritchett. Ruhl, a police officer running
on the Independent Tea Party ticket, was elected
trustee in 2011, beating a Pedersen candidate. He
will run for mayor under that label in 2013.
Pritchett and Chris Litwin also are running. The
outlook: Against two Republicans and an
independent, with the "Boss" keeping
hands off, Pedersen would have to be an utter
nitwit to lose.
Park has a population of 11,850, with 4,753
registered voters. Republican Anna Montana, a
Stephens protege, was elected mayor in 2001 by
1,985-1,044, with 65.5 percent of the vote, and
she was unopposed in 2005, getting 898 votes.
However, local newspaper publisher and gadfly Barb
Piltaver is stirring the proverbial pot. She ran
for mayor in 2009, losing 1,380-962 (with 41.1
percent of the vote), and for trustee in 2011,
getting 690 votes to the Montana incumbents' 994,
970 and 909.
running" for mayor, Piltaver said.
"People want a change." Unless
"Boss" Stephens assembles a load of
money and manpower behind Montana, she will lose.
elected in 1994, Silvestri got only 54 percent of
the vote in 2006 and 2010. At least a dozen
Democrats are gunning for his seat in 2014.
Silvestri's shelf life is dwindling.