In a three-way race for the right to appear on the ballot in the general election in April, incumbent Mayor Anthony Calderone and Terry Steinbach emerged victorious Tuesday.
Calderone captured some 52 percent of the votes while Steinbach garnered 29.6 percent on a day when relatively few ballots were cast. The third challenger in Tuesday’s election, Patrick Doolin, had landed only 18 percent of the day’s votes when he called to concede the race to Steinbach. When all the votes were counted Doolin had 18.6 percent.
Seventy-five percent of the votes were tallied when the Review went to press. In nine of the village’s 12 precincts, Calderone had 950 votes, Steinbach grabbed 562 and Doolin captured 341 votes. There are 7,987 registered voters in Forest Park.
A complete tally of the ballots saw Calderone take 1,294 votes, Steinbach with 738 and Doolin with 456.
Given that he’s seeking his fourth consecutive term on the council, third as mayor, Calderone said he sees the vote as an affirmation of the work he’s done. While going door-to-door over the past five weeks, Calderone said voters were responding to the positive changes he sees in Forest Park.
“That’s the message that I’m hearing, that people are pleased and want to keep it going,” Calderone said while celebrating his victory at Doc Ryan’s bar on Madison Street.
Doolin’s defeat not only knocks him out of contention for the mayor’s office, but also guarantees he will not be returning to the village council. Both Doolin and Steinbach are sitting members of the council and both were elected in 2003. Because the two commissioners opted to run for a higher office, they are not eligible to retain their council seats should they be unsuccessful.
Though three precincts were left to be counted shortly before 9 p.m., Doolin called Steinbach to congratulate her on a victory. With 75 percent of the votes tallied, Doolin trailed by 12 percentage points. Calderone meanwhile, had slightly more than 51 percent of the votes.
“I just called Terry and congratulated her and gave her my 100 percent support,” Doolin said. “I’m looking forward to helping her become the next mayor.”
Calderone is a two-term incumbent to the mayor’s office and previously served as a member of the village council before unseating Lorraine Popelka in 1999. Calderone ran uncontested in 2003.
With more than six weeks until the general election, Steinbach said her campaign strategy will remain a “grassroots” effort and she will not be drawn into political antics.
“I’ve just kind of been myself,” Steinbach said. “I’m an elected official, not a politician. I think that really resonates with voters. They look at me and see themselves.”
The incumbent commissioner said she expected the incumbent mayor to run a heavily funded and negative campaign. Meanwhile, Steinbach said she will continue to stress fiscal responsibility while opening talks on parking, business development and beautification efforts.
Calderone said his strategy will not be to focus on a single issue. Instead he will work to educate voters of the facts.
“I’m committed to running a positive campaign,” Calderone said. “I’ve never been interested in any mudslinging or making any lies or innuendo.”
The mayor said his two challengers campaigned hard for the primary, and he anticipated the coming weeks will see more of the same. But Tuesday evening, Calderone said he was happy to take a breather and celebrate.
“Right now I’m up to my neck in volunteers celebrating,” Calderone said. “I just want to hang out with them and enjoy halftime.”
Tuesday’s primary saw a light turnout with polling places reporting 100 or fewer votes by mid day. Shortly before 1 p.m. an election judge at Grant-White Elementary School said roughly 50 people in the 61st precinct had cast a ballot. There are more than 760 registered voters in that precinct.
Around the same time, Yvonne Davis, an election judge for the 66th precinct counted 103 votes, but said the bulk of the voting would likely take place once people leave work for the day.
“You get a lot of people at the end of the day,” Davis said.
Overall, the polling stations operated smoothly, according to Cook County Clerk spokesperson Kelley Quinn. Quinn accompanied County Clerk David Orr as he made several stops in Forest Park Tuesday on a tour of polling stations here and in neighboring communities.
“Every call we got today was minor, and if the judges had a problem they most likely were able to fix it themselves,” Quinn said.
Of the communities visited by Quinn and Orr, Forest Park appeared to have a higher turnout, Quinn said.
For Forest Park resident Tina Neubieser, municipal spending was a key issue in attracting her to the polls. Neubieser said she came out to support Steinbach after hearing the commissioner speak to issues of fiscal responsibility.
“I just think our town has spent way too much money in recent years,” Neubieser said.
Lisa Markwart, an 11-year resident of Forest Park, said she was interested in making changes to the commission form of government, which was a fundamental piece of Doolin’s platform.
“I took that into consideration because it sounds like that should be changed,” Markwart said.
Matthew Allen, however, said there wasn’t a particular issue that caught his attention, rather the solid performance of the incumbent.
“Anthony Calderone brought me out to the polls today,” Allen, a 16-year resident said.
Elsewhere in suburban Cook County, voters elected municipal representatives in Elgin, Cicero and Hoffman Estates. A tax referendum was posed to voters in the feeder communities of high school District 201.