Chicago Plumber Journeymen Local 130 business manager James Coyne (right) and
Holocaust survivor Aaron Elster (left) will be featured on "Community in Focus"
with Ed McElroy on a show to air at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4 and noon Sunday, Jan.
6 on Senior Network Can TV (Comcast channel 19).
The filing deadline for candidates who intend to run in the April 9 election was Dec. 26. The mayors' and city or village clerks' seats, as well as select trustee or aldermanic seats are up for election in all six towns in The Reporter's coverage area. Area voters will also decide who will represent them on school, library and park boards.
The following is a list of area residents who have filed, and the seats for which they plan to run.
Chicago Ridge Village Board
Mayor Eugene Siegel, who has held the position for 38 years, will not run for re-election. Village Clerk Chuck Tokar will run uncontested for mayor on the Village Action Party ticket along with clerk candidate Lynn Barker and incumbent Trustees Brad Grove, Jim Saunoris and Bruce Quintos. Sally Durkin and Amanda Cardin will run for trustee as independents, and George Schleyer will oppose Barker for the clerk's seat.
Evergreen Park Village Board
Incumbent Mayor James Sexton is running for reelection as a member of the Good Government Party, along with incumbent village Clerk Cathy Aparo and incumbent Trustees Carol Kyle and Mark Phelan. Newcomer Dan McKeown will run for trustee on the Good Government ticket. Shawn Good will challenge Sexton for the mayor's seat.
Oak Lawn Village Board
Incumbent Mayor Dave Heilmann is running with a full slate of candidates on his Mayor's Independence Party ticket, which includes village Clerk candidate Melissa Moran facing off against incumbent Clerk Jane Quinlan, who is running as an independent. Also running on Heilmann's ticket are Trustee Cynthia Trautsch (District 1) and newcomers Julie Misner (District 2), Tim Reilly (District 4) and Carol Sheahan (District 6). Trautsch will be running for the seat she was appointed to fill after the resignation of Jerry Hurckes. The seat carries a two-year term.
Sandra Bury will challenge Heilmann for the mayor's seat. Also in the running as independent candidates for trustee are Timothy Desmond (District 1), incumbents Alex Olejniczak (District 2) and Tom Duhig (District 4), Terry Vorderer (District 4), Michael Carberry (District 6) and Joseph Sorrentino (District 6). Duhig defeated Vorderer in 2009 for the same seat. Sorrentino is the superintendent in Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123.
Worth Village Board
Incumbent Mayor Randy Keller will be challenged by Trustee Mary Werner, who are both running as independent candidates. Running for three open trustee seats are incumbents Rich Dziedzic, Colleen McElroy and Jim Serpico, and Tedd Mursch Jr. Incumbent village Clerk Bonnie Price is the only candidate running for clerk. All candidates are running independently.
Palos Hills City Council
Mayor Jerry Bennett is running uncontested for reelection, along with city Clerk Rudy Mulderink, Treasurer Kenneth Nolan, and incumbent Aldermen Joan Knox (1st Ward), Mark Brachman (2nd Ward), A.J. Pasek (3rd Ward), Ricky Moore (4th Ward) and Mary Ann Schultz (5th Ward). All candidates are unopposed.
Hickory Hills City Council
Incumbent Alderman Brian Waight will be challenged by Stephen Novak in the city's 1st Ward. Incumbent Alderman Deborah Ferrero (2nd Ward) is running unopposed, while Francine Schafer and Brian Fonte will face each other in the 3rd Ward. Aldermen Louis DeRose (3rd Ward) will not seek re-election. Incumbent alderman Joseph Stachnik and newcomer John Corasiswill face off in the 4th Ward. All candidates are running independently.
The United Party of Worth Township is running a slate of incumbent candidates that includes Supervisor John F. Murphy, Assessor John Z. Toscas, Highway Commissioner Steve Loulousis and Trustees David J. Walsh, John "Jack" Lind and Michael E. Mahoney again this term. Sitting Clerk Roger Benson and township Trustee Marianne Viverito Chmela has also filed to run. Benson was appointed last year to clerk to fill a vacancy left by the death of longtime Clerk Tom "Bud" Gavin, and Viverito Chmela was appointed to Benson's old seat.
The Worth Township Community First Party ticket will include Kevin Hughes for superintendent, John Dietrick for assessor, Katie Elwood for clerk, Edward Moody for highway commissioner, and Richard Lewandowski, Norm Anderson, Eamon McMahon and Patrick Hanlon for trustees.
Boards of Education
Incumbent candidates Steve Niceforo, Pat Pulver and Christine Glader-Wendt are running for reelection. School board member David Lif, appointed two years ago to fill a vacancy seat, is also running forelection.
Consolidated High School 230
Seven candidates have filed to run for four open seats. Board President Frank Grabowski will not seek re-election, and Michael Hastings resigned last month. Incumbent board members Carol Baker and Laura Murphy will run for re-election along with Kathleen Murphy-Peterson, Ben Twietmeyer, Tony Serratore, Susan Dalton and Anthony Catalano have filed.
Incumbent board members Danette Keeler, Drew Sernus and Vince Flores are running unopposed for four seats on the board of education.
Community High School 218
Incumbent board members Karen Burmeister, Randy Heuser, Thomas Kosowski and Larry Harris have filed to run for re-election. DonPratl, a former Chicago Ridge village trustee, has filed to run for the seat formerly held by his brother, Ron.
Chicago Ridge 127½
Two candidates have filed to run for five seats. Incumbent board member Cindy Koschetz is running for a two-year term, and incumbent Gregory Hillman is running for a four-year term. There are four four-year seats and one two-year term seat up for election.
North Palos 117
Incumbent board members Chris Slowik, Ron Moran and Deborah Groark have filed to run for re-election. Four seats are up for election.
Oak Lawn-Hometown 123
Incumbent board members Richard Mason and Jay Lurquin, and newcomers Brian Nichols and Peter DeRousse are running for election.
Evergreen Park 124
Three candidates have filed to run for four open seats. They are Julie Egan, Mary Pniewski and Ray Richter.
Moraine Valley Community College
Four trustee seats are up for election on the Moraine Valley Community College board of trustees. Three seats carry six-year terms, and one seat is for a two-year term.
Running for the six-year seats are incumbent Trustees Sandra Wagner and John Murphy, and John Brosnan Donahue, Andrea Ramirez-Justin, John Schiera, Ricardo A. Fernandez, Eileen M. O'Sullivan and Gary D. Lewis. Donahue and Ramirez-Justin have also filed to run for the two-year term, and had until Wednesday to decide which seats they will seek. Joseph A. Skibinski and Tom Cunningham have also filed to run for the two-year seats.
Six people are running for trustee seats for the Evergreen Park Library Board. Incumbent Trustees Virginia Chandler, Elizabeth Topaand Christina Ward are running for re-election to six-year terms. Helen Tomczuk, Christopher Nugarus and Kathleen Savory are each running for two-year terms.
Michael Rummery, Roseann Spoto and Glen Kato have filed to run for library trustee.
Steve Seweryn is the lone candidate to have filed to run for library trustee.
Incumbent Trustees Noula Angelos, Steve Culen and Rick Kelleher will run for re-election.
Incumbent Trustee Kevin Ryan is the lone candidate who has filed to run for election.
Incumbent Trustees Dave Conrad, Richard Egan and Robert Lind have filed to run for re-election.
Incumbent board member Gary Callahan is the lone candidate to have filed to run.
Village Clerk Chuck Tokar to run unopposed for seat
By Laura Bollin
Eugene Siegel was the mayor of Chicago Ridge before the village had sidewalks.
After nearly four decades in office, however, the southwest suburbs' longest-sitting mayor is calling it a career. Siegel will not run for reelection in April. The mayor has endorsed Chicago Ridge village Clerk Chuck Tokar, who is running unopposed for the soon-to-be-open seat, to be his successor.
Siegel moved to Chicago Ridge in 1956, and first ran for mayor in 1975. He was elected, then reelected nine times.
Siegel began his life in government long before he was elected mayor. He was the deputy Cook County coroner from 1962 to 1971, worked as the assistant chief the Cook County sheriff's office from 1971 to 1986, and was the administrative assistant to the state treasure from 1986 to 1992.
In 1993, he became a mayor full time. Before then, it was per village ordinance a part-time position.
"This is my fifth decade as mayor," Siegel said. "My first salary as the mayor part time was $1,500 a year, so I had to have a second job to support my family."
Siegel today earns in excess of $80,000 a year in salary and benefits.
Siegel's first run for mayor came after then-Mayor Joe Coglianese and five village trustees were indicted on charges of receiving kickbacks in return for rezoning properties, Siegel said. Coglianese went to prison for a year, and the Village Board was all but wiped out. Don Pratl Sr., who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board the week before the indictments were handed down, village Clerk Mary Macarol and treasurer Richard Tranowski maintained the village for five months until the election.
Siegel' after being elected, presided over a board that included Trustees Thomas Cooper, William Herrington, Paul LaChance, Chuck Tokar, George Rwyniak and Mary Susan Zelis.
"When I got elected, there was no government left," Siegel said. "All that was there were the village clerk, an appointed trustee, and the village attorney. Fortunately, village attorney George Witous decided to stay with me."
Witous is still the village's attorney today.
One of Siegel's first big projects was creating a pumping station and a two-million gallon reservoir. The village bought its water from Oak Lawn, whose mayor, Fred Dumke, advised Siegel to build a pumping station and reservoir in case there were ever problems with Oak Lawn's distribution system.
"The second big thing we did was the Chicago Ridge Mall," Siegel said. "The mall made us. It made Chicago Ridge."
Siegel said the plan for the mall originally began with the outdoor movie theater on the property where the mall was eventually built in 1981.
"We had the theater, which was nothing but trouble for our police and our village," Siegel said. "Young people were getting drunk there, there were illegal drugs there. We went out and tried to get somebody to develop it."
The first plan was for apartments and stores on the site, but village officials wanted something bigger. When Oak Lawn turned down a development for a Sears store at 95th Street and Pulaski Road, Chicago Ridge officials got in touch with the developers and told them about the property in the village at 95th Street and Ridgeland Avenue. The board during his time as mayor also created the Commons of Chicago Ridge, at 98th Street and Ridgeland Avenue.
"The mall was built in the early 1980s, and it gave Chicago Ridge a tax base," Siegel said. "We didn't have paved sidewalks to go from one side of the street to the other, so this was a big improvement. With that money, we were able to pave the streets, put in curbs and gutters, and put in storm sewers and low-vapor street lights. Our little village became modern."
Creating a fire department with full-time paramedics is one of Siegel's proudest accomplishments.
"We had a volunteer fire department, and the chief came to me and said, mayor, I'm having trouble getting people to answer ambulance calls at night," Siegel said. "We went and put a referendum on the ballot to hire full-time paramedics. We hired full-time firemen that were certified paramedics."
The village had to raise property taxes to pay for the firefighters in the early 1980s, Siegel recalled. He knew money was going to come in from the mall as sales tax revenues, and once it did, the board repealed the property tax increase.
"I told them once we started getting revenue, I would take the tax off, and I did," Siegel said. "I think that put me in a good place with the residents."
After nearly 40 years in office, most of the people who came in with him when he was first elected - like youth counselor Hank Zewarski, who was hired to help keep kids out of the criminal justice system - have long since retired. Zewarski still volunteers as a counselor in the village.
Along with being the mayor, Siegel has served as the vice-chairman of the Southwest Council of Mayors, and is the legislative chairman for the Southwest Conference of Local Government. He is on the board of directors for the Illinois Municipal League and on its executive committee. He is a former president of the Illinois Municipal League, a past member of the Midway Airport Task Force and is on the executive board of directors for Southwest Central Dispatch. He serves on the executive committee for the Mayor's Caucus and was one of two mayors representing Illinois on the National League of Cities Council in Washington, D.C.
The village has changed a great deal since Siegel first moved into the village, which had 1,500 people at the time.
"We're like a jigsaw puzzle," Siegel said. "We zig and zag when our boundaries should be kind of square. We are divided by two sets of railroad tracks, which made the community harder to police and harder to get around."
Siegel oversaw the creation of a tax-increment financing district at Southwest Highway and Harlem Avenue, and advocated building a bridge over Stony Creek so police officers and firefighters could more easily get to residents.
He also made it a point to let people know he would not rezone an area for one apartment building, which is what caused legal trouble for the previous administration, Siegel said.
"We convinced apartment owners to turn units into condominiums on Southwest Highway, so we have a class of people that have ownership and take care of the property better," Siegel said.
Though he is looking forward to retirement, Siegel said he was a little worried about having so much time off.
"It is bothersome to me," Siegel said. "I'm not a golfer, so I won't be on the golf course. I'll be doing something, but I'm not a youngster."
Siegel said he believes Tokar - who has served as clerk since 1989 after spending 14 years as a village trustee - will continue many of the same programs started under Siegel's watch.
Residents will still see Siegel in the village, he said.
"I'll be around," Siegel said. "I've been in politics and I've devoted my whole life to it. I'll still be able to serve in some capacity. I've made politics my life. I always felt that I wasn't better than anybody. I am on the same level as the people, that's why I've been so successful."
On a cold night last Thursday during Christmas break, a small group of teenage girls were walking toward the gazebo on Oak Lawn's Village Green.
As they were getting closer to the gazebo, one of the girls gave the others a warning to heed.
"You better not laugh at me when I start crying," she said.
It was going to be that type of night.
Emotions ran high during the candlelight vigil to honor those 20 children and seven adults who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn.
"I've been crying for a week," said Oak Lawn resident Jane Foley.
The tears flowed freely as an estimated 400 people gathered for the 45-minute ceremony that featured 27 area children stepping up to the microphone and reading off the victims' names. Lights and holiday decorations on the Green were shut off and candles were lit.
O ak Lawn firefighters hoisted an American flag on a truck's hydraulic platform and later sent 27 sky lanterns into the night.
O ak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann spoke to the crowd, and weeks after the tragedy it still affected him.
" You expect [children] to run back out [at the end of school] with a smile on their face," he said. "You don't expect to get a call with the words that no parent should ever hear. I don't know what those families are saying to each other tonight. I don't know the words they use in between the tears. I don't know how they tell their other children that their brother or sister is not coming home.
" I don't know how you walk into that room and see their clothes or see their toys and go on. But somehow you have to find a way. And maybe that comes from other communities - not just Newtown - but communities across the United States - not just Oak Lawn –where moms and dads come out on a cold winter night with their children. We're telling them, 'we're with you at the most difficult moment of your lives.'"