A colorful political battle in a mostly Latino suburb just west of Chicago could hinge on a ruling expected Wednesday afternoon from the town’s election board.
Cicero Town President Larry Dominick is running for a third four-year term and fighting a claim that he is ineligible for the post because of alleged arrears to the municipality.
The case’s objectors include Juan Ochoa, Dominick’s toughest rival in the Feb. 26 election. Ochoa, a former CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, is heading a slate of Cicero candidates running against Dominick allies.
Dominick, according to the objection, did not pay permit fees for building projects at his home, 3825 S. 59th Ct., and shared ownership in a plumbing business that failed to pay license fees.
James Nally, an attorney for the objectors, said the projects include garage work. “He didn’t apply for a permit to construct the garage but he applied for permits for other work on the property,” Nally told WBEZ. “So that’s an acknowledgement that he knew that permits were necessary to do this work.”
Dominick’s own brother testified against him Sunday before the board, a three-member panel. Richard Dominick claimed to have worked for the company and claimed that Larry Dominick partly owned it and helped run it.
The company, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report, got $1.8 million in business from Cicero despite never bidding for a contract and never signing one.
Larry Dominick, a former Cicero police officer, says his ex-wife handled the renovation work and denies he has been a partner in the company.
Dominick’s attorney, Richard Means, calls the president’s brother “a chronic liar” and dismisses the claims about the building projects.
“This is dredging up something in the very distant past,” Means told WBEZ. “In order to be unqualified because of being in arrears in a tax or other fee to the municipality, there has to be some kind of finding [such as] a ticket issued and then you didn’t show up in court.”
Ochoa suffered a blow on Sunday when the election board ruled that the “only evidence that would be relevant” would be a Dominick admission of the existence of a debt that “he knows he should have paid” or proof that Cicero had sought payment.
The ballot hearings followed a December intervention by a Cook County judge, who found that the board’s three members all had potential conflicts of interest. Those members were Dominick himself and two of his allies, Town Supervisor Joseph Virruso and Town Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias.
The judge, Edmund Ponce de León, replaced the three with election experts from outside Cicero. Ponce de León also disqualified board alternate Dennis Raleigh, a town trustee.