Election 2015 Re-Cap: Reading The Tea Leaves


Another local election has come and gone, and with it a few surprises and not-so-surprises. After listening to both the noise and the silence over the past several days, here’s what we’ve concluded and speculated about Tuesday night’s results.

City of Park Ridge: The first non-surprise is that Seventh Ward Ald. (and Acting Mayor) Marty Maloney and Fifth Ward Ald. Dan Knight won their uncontested races.

Although nobody ran against Maloney, it apparently isn’t for want of interest in that seat: we hear that at least two – and perhaps more – Seventh Ward residents have been chasing Maloney like dogs after a t-bone, pushing him to take the full complement of mayoral powers by relinquishing his aldermanic seat.

Oh yeah… and then appoint one of them to fill it.

Another non-surprise was Bob Wilkening’s defeat of Rick Van Roeyen by almost 300 votes, 418 to 120, in the traditionally apathetic Third Ward – where contested aldermanic races come along about once a generation. Given that the current alderman won by write-in when no conventional candidates filed nominating petitions, it also should come as no surprise that even this rare contested race drew fewer total votes – for both candidates combined – than were cast for just the winner of the First Ward race. And to add insult to insult, the Third Ward had a lower turnout of registered voters (9.58%) for its contested race than did the uncontested races in the Fifth (10.9%) and Seventh (9.79%) wards.

The takeaway from this race? If Wilkening can stay awake during meetings, we can call this a “Plus-One” for the City. And that’s more than Third Warders deserve because even with their first contested race this millennium they still found a way – through pathetic turnout – to prove just how badly they suck at Citizenship 101!

The “hot” City race was up in the First Ward, where John Moran posted a 16% win – 590 to 430 – over Andrea Cline.

Cline, backed by the “Go Green Park Ridge” organization/association/club/caucus/coffee klatch, garnered some noteworthy endorsements (e.g., Maine Twp. Clerk Gary Warner, former 1st Ward ald. and 2005 mayoral candidate Michael Tinaglia, D-64 Board president Tony Borrelli, 2nd Ward. Ald. Nick Milissis, and former 5th Ward ald. Rich Whalen) for what was perceived by many to be a flooding-oriented campaign – not that there’s anything wrong with that, given our chronic flooding problems.

Moran, the son of a former alderman, seemed to draw support from some remnants of the defunct Homeowners Party, as well as from a broad network of social contacts. His campaign focused more on the financial side of City government, which may have resonated with more voters because of the City’s emphasis – thanks to the late Mayor Dave – on the financial problems accumulated over the better part of two decades.

The takeaway from this race: flooding does matter, but there appears to be a growing recognition that most/all government problems are rooted in, and must be solved by, financial matters. If Moran walks his finance talk, this should also be a “Plus-One” for the City.

Park Ridge Park District: In the biggest squeaker of the night, two-term incumbent Park Commissioner Jim O’Brien edged two-term incumbent Park Commissioner Mary Wynn Ryan by only 18 votes – 2,330 to 2,312 – for the third and last of three seats on the Park Board. Interestingly enough, both O’Brien and Ryan ran similar low-key campaigns, eschewing yard signs and mailers and, instead, choosing to run on their respective records.

The leading vote getter was the only non-incumbent, Cindy Grau, another “Go Green Park Ridge” candidate who had to overcome a petition challenge to stay on the ballot. She scored a 10-vote win over second-place finisher Mel Thillens, 2,409 to 2,399, and was the leading vote-getter in 14 of the 33 Park District precincts – showing the most strength in Maine Twp. precincts 24, 25, 27 and 42. Thillens, on the other hand, was best of show in Leyden Twp. precinct 23 and Maine precincts 30, 43 and 65.

The takeaway from this race? With Grau and Ryan seemingly singing from the same hymn book, the chanteuse with the signs beat the one without. We’ll call this a “Push” for the Park District, at least until Grau shows whether she can carry a different tune from Ryan’s.

School District 64: In the waning days of the election a flier appeared that encouraged voting for PREA-recruit Greg Bublitz, PREA-maybe Tom Sotos, and Board president Tony Borrelli. The message was clear: Anybody but Mark Eggemann.

But when the smoke cleared early Wednesday morning, Eggemann stood atop the leader board with a 168-vote margin over the second-place Borrelli, whom Sotos trailed by 242 votes. Missing the cut was Bublitz.

Interestingly, Eggemann led the pack in 20 of 36 precincts and finished second in 6 more, while Bublitz won only one precinct: Maine Twp. precinct 36 – and that by a mere 4 votes over Borrelli and 5 votes over Eggemann. Equally interesting was Borrelli’s showing, inasmuch as he conducted a low-key, yard sign-less campaign with only one mailer.

The takeaway? The PREA does a better job of manipulating Gumby-like Board members than it does the voters.  Consequently, the PREA won’t be getting another rubber stamp to replace departing best-boy John Heyde. And Eggemann, hopefully, can contribute some much-needed backbone for the rest of the Board members who have bent to the PREA’s and administrators’ wills and whims for far too long.

School District 207: The size of District 207 tends to make its Board a safe haven for incumbents no matter how inept or profligate they might be. Challengers without significant name recognition have a steep uphill battle, because the District is virtually impossible to attack on a door-to-door walking basis. So a successful challenger needs yard signs and/or mailers to level the playing field.

Only one of the three challengers to the slate of incumbents Sean Sullivan, Paula Besler and Pablo Morales had enough of those to make a difference: Teri Collins, the executive director of MCYAF who ran only 218 votes behind two-term incumbent Sullivan and 604 votes behind front-runner Besler for the third seat.

The odd incumbent out was Morales, who was appointed to the Board late last August and, therefore, had only seven months of Board service to make a name for himself. But despite having his own signs and being included with Sullivan and Besler on their slate’s signs, not only did Morales lose to Collins, but he also lost fourth place to Jill Dolan, a candidate with little name recognition and the ability to create any kind of yard-sign presence only in the last weeks of the campaign.

The takeaway? Expect the same old same old from D-207 for the next two years, even if Collins can muster spine enough to actually challenge the Kool-Aid drinking Board majority to demand better educational achievement from the very well-paid teachers and administrators. And props to Dolan and Patel for making their runs.

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5 comments so far

You neglect to say that Thillens rode some pretty long coattails from the 30% turnout in precinct 43 – Moran’s precinct.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do “coattail” votes count for less? If so, somebody better break the news to David Orr.

And if you think people chose finance over flooding I think you oversimplify the 1st ward race.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you don’t think so, then you should support one or more referendums for flood control projects – or for a City-wide flood remediation bond issue. But you won’t because they don’t.

I am delighted Eggemann was not only able to win but to finish first. I also hope you are right about him being able to inject some steel into the spines of Borrelli and Paterno, and that together they might be able to convince Sotos or Johnson (Zimmerman and Lee are lost causes, I am afraid) to stop paying for more than taxpayers and students are actually getting.

what’s the boy version of coffeeklatch? Beerfest?

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to Merriam-Webster, it means: “an informal social gathering for coffee and conversation,” with no gender orientation or implication. And we would assume the same about “beerfest.”

To Cindy, what did ward one come down to if it was not finance vs flood?

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