While Riverside Republican Tony Peraica’s race against Todd Stroger for Cook County Board president is gathering all the headlines, Peraica has another opponent on the Nov. 7 ballot. Peraica is also running for reelection to his post as the county commissioner for the 16th District.
Peraica’s Democratic opponent in the 16th District race is William E. Gomolinski, a lawyer who lives in Western Springs, Ill., and practices law in Palos Hills, Ill. Gomolinski is critical of Peraica’s decision to run for county board president and commissioner at the same time.
“I believe in one office for one elected official,” Gomolinski said. “The citizens of Cook County deserve a full-time president. The citizens of the 16th District deserve a full-time commissioner.”
The 16th District includes Riverside, Brookfield, North Riverside, and Forest Park among many other communities in the western suburbs of Cook County.
Peraica said if he should be elected to both seats the taxpayers will be getting two for the price one. He would collect the $180,000 county board president salary and would not be paid the $86,000 salary of a county commissioner, Peraica said.
Peraica also noted that most recent Cook County Board presidents, with the exception of Richard Phelan who was County Board president form 1990 to 1994, have served simultaneously as both a commissioner and as county board president.
If elected to the commissioner’s seat, Peraica said he will continue the reform efforts he has made since he was elected in 2002 in a narrow victory over Melrose Park mayor Ron Serpico.
“I think the voters in the 16th District got exactly what I promised to do four years ago,” Peraica said. “That is to fight against taxes and corruption.”
Peraica pointed to the elimination of the suburban tuberculosis and sanitarium district as a separate taxing authority as one of his accomplishments. That district is being merged into the rest of county government.
Gomolinski, however, said he is the real reformer.
Endorsements for his election from reform Democrat County Board members Forest Claypool, Mike Quigley, and Larry Suffrendin speak to his agenda, Gomolinski said.
This is the Democrat’s second race for the County Board. In 2002 he was narrowly beaten in the Democratic primary by Serpico who is now a member of his campaign committee. In 1998 Gomolinski ran unsuccessfully for judge, also losing in the Democratic primary.
Gomolinski accused Peraica of not always being a real reformer.
He noted that Peraica’s son was hired by the Cook County clerk of the Circuit Court’s office in 2003 within months of his father’s election to the county board.
Peraica said his son, who is paid $24,875, works as a second shift computer operator and was hired on his own merits.
“I am a true reformer,” Gomolinski said. “I am a good government candidate. My kids will find their own jobs. Tony believes in transparency for everyone but himself.”
Peraica has had problems with Republicans on his home turf. In the March primary Peraica barely won reelection as Lyons Township Republican committeeman over a young opponent who had the backing of many powerful Republican insiders.
Gomolinski is hoping he can capitalize on this split in the Republican ranks.
Peraica is endorsed, according to his campaign website, by Brookfield Mayor Michael Garvey, Forest Park commissioner Patrick Doolin and Bud Boy, president of the park board in Forest Park.
State Rep. Karen Yarborough (D-Maywood) serves as the co-chairman of Gomolinski’s campaign committee.
The two candidates are scheduled to appear together on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at a candidate’s forum hosted by the LaGrange area League of Women Voters. The forum will be held at the LaGrange Village Hall, 53 S. LaGrange Ave. from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.