In a hotly contested race in Worth, incumbent Mayor Mary Werner defeated her opponent Randy Keller, the former mayor she was victorious against four years ago.
With seven of seven precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning, Werner collected 1,068 votes for 59.87 percent. Keller had 716 votes for 40.13 percent.
“The residents have spoken and they wish to continue moving forward with a vision for Worth,” said Trustee Kevin Ryan about Werner’s victory.
Werner, who will now serve a second term, gathered with her supporters on Tuesday night at the Chieftain Pub awaiting the election results.
“I am grateful to the residents of Worth who were able to see through all the mudslinging taking place during the campaign and who voted on my accomplishments and vision for the future of Worth.”
In earlier comments at a Candidates Night held on March 14, Werner had stated that her vision for Worth was to see the Lucas Berg Preserve property developed into one of the greatest economic development Worth has ever seen. She said she envisioned sitting on a patio of a restaurant on 111th street, one day in the future, enjoying a beautiful view of the lake and wildlife area of the Lucas Berg site.
Keller did not respond to a call seeking a comment on the election results.
Village Clerk Bonnie Price, who was running unopposed for a fifth term, garnered the highest number of all the candidates with a grand total of 1,527 votes as of Wednesday morning.
Price, who is a Certified Municipal Clerk, has served as clerk in Worth since 2001 and has served under three mayors.
Victor in the race for the one open trustee position was Brad Urban, a long-time Worth resident who served on the Worth Park District Board of Directors for six years. He is a commander at the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post. He had the second highest number of votes with 1,243.
Urban said he wanted to thank his wife, family, friends and residents for their trust in him.
“My goal is to do the best I can where ever the mayor assigns me. I will do my best, I will be honest and I will work hard for the village,” Urban said.
His opponent, Bahira Karim, a first-time candidate, is a 27-year resident of Worth who has worked in the Worth school district for 19 years. She received 771 votes as of Wednesday morning.
Karim said she was pleased with the show of support from the community for all she has accomplished.
“I have spent 19 years at the school, three years on the library board and have served as a translator for the police department for many years,” Karim said. “This was my first time as a candidate, and the first time an Arabic woman has run for office in the village.”
She believes that the Village of Worth is not open to diversity.
”I ran a clean race, as an independent. I went door-to-door and worked very long hours. I reached out to people and I heard many concerns about our village,” Karim said. “I encouraged people to go to the village board meetings where they could be heard and where they could speak up about their concerns.”
She explained that her community is new to getting engaged in politics, but in the future there will be more involvement of the Arabic community.
“I will not stop. I will not disappoint those who voted for me. My plan was to be the voice of those who can’t speak for themselves,” Karim said. “They trust me and look up to me because they can talk to me and I understand their needs. As long as I am here, I will continue to work for them,” she said.
Incumbent trustee Rich Dziedzic will return for a third term with 1,161 votes.
“From a trustee’s perspective I think it was a good election. While I was pleased to be one of the top three vote-getters, I think we had four good candidates. I am happy to have another four years to serve the village,” Dziedzic said.
Tedd Muersch Jr. was elected to his second term with 1,151 votes as of Wednesday morning. He did not respond to a call after the election results were announced. But earlier at a Candidates Night he emphasized that he was anxious to continue the improvement of the Water’s Edge Golf Course he oversees as the trustee liaison.
In Evergreen Park, all candidates were running unopposed, with one open trustee position to be filled due to Trustee Daniel McKeown choosing not to run again. Nominated to his position was Norm Anderson, a long-time Evergreen Park resident who has served as a Fire and Police Commissioner for the last 17 years. He is currently chairman of the Commission.
Returning for another term are Mayor James Sexton, Village Clerk, Cathy Aparo and Trustees Carol Kyle and Mark Phelan.