By Dermot Connolly
Two local mayors are stepping down this spring as three candidates will be vying to replace them in the April 6 election.
In Evergreen Park, Mayor James Sexton is retiring after 20 years in the role he was first elected to in 2001. His Good Government party has nominated state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36 th ), in her first term as a village trustee also, to replace him. She will head the party’s slate of candidates that include Village Clerk Cathy Aparo and trustees Norm Anderson, Carol Kyle and Mark Phelan.
Burke plans to remain a state representative if elected, but Shawn Good is running an independent campaign for mayor against her. Cesar Salazar and Darryl D. Smith are running independently for trustees. Good, a paralegal, ran for mayor as a write-in candidate in 2013 after her petitions were rejected. Burke is considered a heavy favorite in this race. She is active in several local organizations and is an attorney based in Evergreen Park. Sexton said her experience in Springfield will be a benefit to the village.
Helen Tomczuk, Laura Sexton and Kathleen T. Bradley are running for the three available seats on the Evergreen Park Library Board. Tomczuk and Bradley are incumbents, and Sexton — the current mayor’s daughter-in-law — is co-president of the Evergreen Park Elementary School District 14 Foundation Board.
In Oak Lawn, Mayor Sandra Bury is also stepping down after two terms, and Village Clerk Jane Quinlan is retiring after 16 years in that position. Bury has endorsed Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) to replace her. Vorderer is heading up the Oak Lawn First slate of candidates, which include clerk candidate Claire Henning, incumbent trustees Alex Olejniczak (2nd) and Tom Phelan (6th), and Jamie Pembroke, a teacher at Evergreen Park Community High School, who is running for Vorderer's trustee seat.
Vorderer is a lifelong resident of Oak Lawn. He served as chief of patrol for the Oak Lawn Police Department before retiring. He was also a past Oak Lawn Park District commissioner.
The only opposition standing in Vorderer’s way is longtime Oak Lawn resident Thomas Karones, who is running as a write-in candidate after Quinlan said he did not qualify as an official candidate because he submitted just over 100 signatures, when at least 500 are needed.
Karones realizes he is a long shot but said he did not want to see an unopposed election. Henning, Olejniczak, Phelan and Pembroke are currently running unopposed.
In Palos Hills, Mayor Gerald Bennett, who has been in office since 1981, is being challenged by Sandy Szczygiel, while City Clerk Rudy A. Mulderink is running unopposed.
Bennett, who is also the president of the Southwest Conference of Mayors, is expected to win and serve another term. The former Pleasure Lake at 108th and Roberts is now named Gerald R. Bennett Park in honor of the longtime mayor. He has long supported renovation of the park and has rallied for attracting new businesses to the community.
In other Palos Hills races, City Treasurer Kenneth J. Nolan is facing opposition from Dr. Damian Ciszek. Likewise, Marzena Jurczak-Konopczak is running against incumbent Ald. Michael A. Price (1st), and Jack Dunajczan is facing off against incumbent Michael H. Brachman (2nd). Ald. A.J. Pasek (3rd) is opposed by Malgorzata Sztachelski, while Ald. Phil Abed (4th) is facing opposition from Anna Biedrzycki. Incumbent Ald. Donna O'Connell (5th) is facing a challenge from Anna Marek. All the challengers in the Palos Hills races are running for the first time.
In Chicago Ridge, Mayor Chuck Tokar is running unopposed for his third term, and Village Clerk Barbara Harrison is running unopposed for her second. But there will be some competition in the trustee races.
Joining Tokar and Harrison on the Performance Party slate are incumbent trustees Edmund “Ed” Kowalski and Lisel Kwartnik, both seeking second terms, and William G. Lammel, who is running for the seat being vacated by Deb Pyznarski. The two independent candidates running for trustee are Elaine C. Davenport and Andrew L. Siegel, the son of a former longtime mayor, the late Gene Siegel. The top three vote-getters will win the open seats.
Stan Pawlowski and Mary Jo Janik are running for six-year terms on the Chicago Ridge Library Board, and Monica Fletcher is seeking a four-year term.
All the incumbents up for election in Worth are running unopposed. These include Mayor Mary Werner, Village Clerk Bonnie Price, and trustees Tedd Muersch Jr., Brad Urban and Rich Dziedzic.
In Hickory Hills, four aldermen are up for election and also running unopposed. They are Brian Waight (1st), Deborah Ferrero (2nd), Brian Fonte (3rd), and Joseph Stachnik (4th).