After weeks of battling, tense relations, allegations of misuse of funds and of an ‘old boys network,’ Cathleen McDermott and Roy Sansone won a place back on the Park District of Forest Park, beating out incumbent Michael Espinosa and challengers Mary Buckley and Marcella Wozniak.
Unofficial results show McDermott won by a slim margin, capturing 503 votes.
Sansone came in second in the election, with 487 votes.
The next closest candidate was Espinosa, with 475 votes. Marcella Wozniak obtained 473 and Buckley, 190.
For both winners, however, the win was a bittersweet one, as their closest allies did not get the voter’s nod.
“I am ecstatic on the one hand and on the other hand I think voters missed the vote with not electing Marcy,” McDermott said. “I have to thank my friends at the board walk because they are the ones who came through for me.”
Likewise, Sansone said he was upset Espinosa did not get the vote.
“I am happy and sad at the same time because my friend Mike didn’t get elected,” he said. “He is a very good man and an asset to the district. Without him I wouldn’t have been appointed.”
Espinosa blamed the results on the low voter turnout.
“I am disappointed, I think that had the turnout been higher, there might have been different results,” he said.
McDermott, who has campaigned on budgetary restraint and diversity issues, has a hard road ahead of her, her opponents said, as the months of bitter campaigning has left a bitter taste in the standing commissioner’s mouths.
McDermott, however, said she is confident she can work with the board and said the position of outsider is not a new one for her.
“I am used to it, because my past term on the board I was odd man out,” she said. “We have a huge task ahead of us, both financially, with capital improvement projects. Everybody has to check their ego at the door and attack this professionally.”
For his part, Sansone said he is confident McDermott will be able to smooth out any problems.
“I think Cathy will do the right thing,” he said. “I think she will be able to work with us, if not it is going to be a long six years.”
Wozniak said she will not be running again in two years, and instead plans to support McDermott.
“I think it was something that was a one-time thing. It was something that sparked me this year, the timing was right this year,” she said. “I plan to support Cathy in whatever she needs for the next six years.”
The win, Sansone said is the end result of what he saw as a good campaign.
“I got all my brochures out, I stood outside of Ed’s Way, I am really satisfied with the way the whole campaign went because I couldn’t do more,” he said. “I am really satisfied with how everything went, except for Mike not getting elected.”