Winning handily on April 7 against an entrenched incumbent and a former board member, Eric Entler earned himself a six-year seat as a commissioner of the park district in Forest Park.
Entler, the youngest of three candidates vying for a seat on the board, campaigned on the promise of taking newer, more tech-savvy approaches to increasing membership in park district programs. He is a consistent volunteer at the park and a lifelong Forest Park resident, but Entler faced a formidable challenge in trying to unseat Howard “Bud” Boy, who has served on the board for 28 years.
“I’m tied to the park district in different ways than I think he is,” Entler said on election night after taking a congratulatory call from Boy.
The third challenger in the race, Michael Espinosa, previously served as a park district board member for almost eight years.
The unofficial tally on election night revealed a lop-sided victory for Entler who took better than 50 percent of the total votes. According to the Cook County clerk, Entler collected 574 votes. Boy garnered 323 votes and Espinosa finished a distant third with 186. Entler said that the win is a credit to his supporters who worked diligently to get his name out.
“I’m very excited and I’m excited for everyone that helped me as well,” Entler said while celebrating at McGaffer’s on Roosevelt Road. “It wasn’t just me.”
Having spent more than a quarter century on the park’s board, Boy said he was disappointed in the outcome, but vowed to remain a steady presence in the community. His legacy is strong, he said, and his exit comes at the top of his game.
“I’m disappointed naturally, but I can’t say that I’m surprised,” Boy said. “Mr. Entler worked very hard at it, and apparently the voters felt they needed him.
“I’m going to be in Forest Park all my life.”
Also decided Tuesday were four seats on the District 209 board that oversees Proviso Township’s public high schools. Nine candidates turned out for the contest, and three incumbents secured themselves another four-year term.
Sitting board President Emanuel “Chris” Welch led all challengers, taking more than 7,560 votes, according to unofficial Cook County clerk results. Finishing behind him were Dan Adams, the board’s current vice president, with 7,023 votes; incumbent Brian Cross with 6,999 votes; and newcomer Kevin McDermott with 6,842 votes.
McDermott will replace Reatha “Sue” Henry, who finished sixth in the field.
For Welch and Adams, the victory marks the start of their third terms on the school board.
McDermott campaigned largely on a platform of reversing what he described as wasteful, political antics used by the incumbents. Recently, McDermott signed on as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Welch and the school district, accusing them of inappropriately using taxpayer money to pay Welch’s personal legal bills.
“Obviously, I would rather have some of my running mates win with me,” McDermott said of being the lone newcomer to the board.
Welch did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Two years ago, McDermott finished fourth in a race for three seats available.
“The results are remarkably the same,” McDermott said of the 2007 and 2009 elections. “I just narrowly got edged out two years ago when there were three seats available, and I just barely won this time around with four seats available.”
In Forest Park, voters also decided not to add another $1 charge to their monthly phone bills. The tax, posed in a referendum question, would have been used to help pay for upgrades to the 911 system that are mandated by the federal government. Those improvements have to be made by 2013, emergency personnel have said, but it’s not yet clear how much the equipment may cost.
“Since we’re losing out on one to two years of revenue, we’re going to have to go in front of the council and make a request for the establishment of a set-aside fund, or a capital equipment fund to make these purchases,” Fire Chief Steve Glinke said.
Four seats on the District 91 school board were also up for re-election. Incumbents Mary Winn Connor, Joan White, Mary Turek and Lois Bugajsky ran unopposed.
In a township-wide race to name four trustees, Forest Park residents Tim Gillian and Patrick Doolin were two of eight candidates in the running. Gillian was among the winners with 13.7 percent of the vote. Doolin finished seventh in the field with 10.9 percent.
Forest Park Review intern Jared T. Miller contributed to this report.