Incumbents rule the day in suburban mayoral elections

New leaders elected in Elgin, Joliet, Chicago Heights and Wood Dale

April 6, 2011

(Photo/Naper Settlement)
The Riverwalk in Naperville, IL near the historic Naper Settlement

Updated on 4/7/11 at 11:06am

Voters throughout Chicago's suburbs cast ballots in more than two dozen races for mayor or village president.  But amidst budget pressures and uncertain economic times, the response from voters in most communities was: stay the course.

That wasn't true in every community, of course. Several of the state's largest cities will see new leadership this year - the result of both ballot box rebukes and voluntary retirements.

In the latter case, Joliet's incumbent mayor Arthur Schultz is retiring after 20 years in office.  He'll be succeeded by Tom Giarrante, a retired firefighter and incumbent city councilman.  Giarrante defeated eight other candidates on Tuesday to become mayor of Illinois' fourth largest city.

But in northwest suburban Elgin, longtime mayor Ed Schock lost his bid for a fourth-term in office, as tallies showed challenger Dave Kaptain winning 54 percent of the vote. 

Residents of west suburban Wood Dale also will have a new mayor soon.  Voters denied incumbent Ken Johnson's bid for a fourth term, giving the nod instead to Annunziato Pulice.  Pulice won a close two-way contest, capturing 51 percent of the vote, following revelations that Johnson owed the village thousands of dollars in unpaid health premiums.

CPA David Gonzalez won election to an open seat in Chicago Heights over Alderman Joe Faso.  The south suburban community has had an interim mayor since the death of then-mayor Alex Lopez in August 2010.

Challenger Gopal Lalmalani defeated incumbent John W. Craig in the race for Oak Brook Village President, and in the open mayoral seat in Rolling Meadows, former city councilman Tom Rooney sailed to victory against Jonathan Trapani.

In a battle of ballot nicknames in Prospect Heights, Nichaolas "Nick" Helmes handily defeated incumbent Dolores "Dolly" Vole with better than 70 percent of the vote.

But elsewhere, it was business as usual for many other communities as incumbents cruised to re-election in races for mayor and village president, many of whom ran unopposed.

Schaumburg

In Schaumburg, long-time incumbent village president Al Larson faced his first challenge in more than 15 years but emerged victorious over 31-year-old challenger Brian Costin. 

Much of the campaign focused on the village's recently instituted property tax, as well as the village's ownerhip of the Schaumburg Flyer's baseball stadium and the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center.  Costin criticized the village property tax, and he argued that the stadium and convention complex should be privatized.

Larson, 72, has led Schaumburg for 24 years and his victory on Tuesday returns him to office for another four-year term.

West Suburbs

Tuesday night also proved to be a big one for Naperville's four-term incumbent mayor George Pradel.  He defeated two other challengers to win a fifth term in office, which Pradel says will be his last. 

In nearby Wheaton, Mayor Michael Gresk defeated Councilman John Prendiville in his bid for re-election.  Gresk garnered 53 percent of the vote to Prendiville's 47 percent. 

South Suburbs

While voters in Joliet selected a new mayor, incumbents won the day in several other south suburban communities, including Country Club Hills, where voters elected Mayor Dwight Welch to a seventh term in office.

In Harvey, Eric Kellogg also won re-election, though he failed to win a majority of the vote in a five-person contest.  A recent controversy over a vote that made Kellogg superintendent of Harvey's public schools and allegations of corruption swirled during his most recent term in office.

Meanwhile, John Ostenberg cruised to a record fourth-term as mayor of Park Forest by a two-to-one margin, but the race for mayor of University Park was much closer.  With absentee ballots not yet counted, Vivian Covington holds onto a razor-thin lead over Joseph Roudez.

Correction:  An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Gopal Lalmalani as the incumbent in the race for Oak Brook Village President.  He was the challenger.