Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voters oust Peraica and reject 19th Ward suburban takeover in Orland Park

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Voters oust Peraica and reject 19th Ward suburban takeover in Orland Park
By Ray Hanania

Suburban Cook County Voters in the Southwest and West suburbs tossed out one incumbent Republican commissioner in the 16th District and blocked a Machine Democrat from taking control of another in the 17th District.

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-16th), the often obnoxious and loudmouthed publicity hound who was shunned by his own party colleagues on the board, was thrown out of office Tuesday night.

Ironically, the woman and colleague he most scorned at board meetings, Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman easily defeated a challenge from Patrick Maher, the cousin of outgoing Comptroller Dan Hynes in a rebuff of the powerful 19th Ward Democratic Machine.

Neither election was about party politics, though, although the 19th Ward has tightened its grip on elections and government positions in Southwest Suburban Orland Park over the years. But the elections in both races were more about honesty and character.

The unofficial vote count is: Gorman 55,514 votes to Maher 33,819, and Tobolski 32,781 and Peraica 27,617 votes.

Only days before the election, Peraica was arrested late Saturday night after he was caught by police destroying campaign signs of his opponent, Tobolski. First, Peraica was stopped in Stickney, where police reported they suspected he was destroying signs but did not have a witness to file charges. Less than 20 minutes later, he was stopped in nearby McCook, where Tobolski is the mayor, and arrested when police saw him drive out of a driveway of an 80 year old woman’s home where a Tobolski sign had been destroyed.

During the stop, which occurred at 11:15 pm, a neighbor came running out claiming he also saw the suspects destroying the signs on his property. The suspect turned out to be Tony Peraica driving around with an aide and carrying a large fireman’s poll often used to pull down debris from burning buildings.

Peraica was dressed in black and a cap on his head and claimed he was merely driving around to put up his own signs. Of course, Peraica had no signs of his own in the white van. He was charged, booked and jailed until authorities released him at 3 in the morning on an I-Bond, not requiring a cash deposit.

In his usual self-destructive style, Peraica immediately called a press conference on Sunday and then again on Monday to spin his version of the story. But voters could not erase the image of an elected official acting so foolishly, driving around in the middle of the night in all black tearing down the campaign signs on private property of another candidate. Peraica

rejected publicity hound Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica handing his rival McCook Mayor Jeffery Tobolski a landslide victory on Tuesday.

In the neighboring 17th District, voters trounced the campaign of Patrick Maher, the controversial head of the Orland Fire Protection District and the cousin of 19th Ward scion and outgoing Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Maher and Liz Gorman were in a tight race months ago as Democratic activists from Orland Park and the 19th Ward flooded Maher’s campaign with funds and volunteers.

But weeks before the election, FOX Chicago News reporter Dane Placko reported that Maher was hiding a secret. He had been arrested and charged with a felony in the brutal beating while a college student of another student. That student today remains with brain damage. Maher went to trial but later agreed to a plea bargain misdemeanor assault.

Making matters worse, Maher did not disclose the conviction when asked on campaign forms by several local news media. And, it appeared that Maher had intentionally tried to hide the conviction, using a different birth date on his records. Changing a birth date makes it almost impossible for anyone to determine in a person has had a prior conviction. Maher’s father is the Clerk of Orland Park and an employee of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“I’m thrilled to have the backing of the voters,” Gorman told me last night during her victory celebration. “I’ll continue to fight to defend their rights against excessive taxation and bloated county budgets.”

Maher tried and failed to link Gorman to outgoing County Board President Todd Stroger. In reality, Gorman was Stroger’s political nightmare. Gorman led the fight to repeal Stroger’s one cent sales tax hike. And when the move was rebuffed by Stroger and the board seemed to wane, Gorman persisted and reintroduced the effort several times until it passed and half of the tax was repealed.

Her colleague Peraica tried to introduce similar legislation but not on member of the Cook County Board would second his efforts, showing that he had no friends or alliances on the county board.

Peraica and his minions, including two writers at extremist WIND AM Radio and two activists in Justice, were constantly attacking anyone who questioned his failed leadership.

“I am honored to become the representative for the voters of the 16th District of Cook County,” Tobolski told me last night. “I will fight for their rights and make their interests and needs a the priority.”

The election contests were overshadowed by the statewide battles for the U.S. Senate between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, and Illinois Governor between incumbent Democrat Patrick Quinn and downstate Republican challenger Bill Brady.

Kirk has claimed victory while the race for governor remains too close to call at this writing.

Nationally, Republicans took control of the U.S House, a tradition that has repeated itself in most off-year elections. The party that controls the White House has lost control of the U.S. House in every election except two, once right after the Depression and once right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Democrats expected to lose control of the House as Republicans lost control of the house during the second term of President George W. Bush.

The changing of control of the House now puts the pressure on Republicans to confront the deteriorating economy and the increasing job losses that began under the Bush administration. During the first two years of the Obama administration, the Republicans were in lock step rejecting everything Obama introduced.


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