Forest Park voters supported the self-proclaimed “independent” slate in the Proviso Township High School District 209 school board race of Kevin McDermott and Arbdella “Della” Patterson, an analysis of Forest Park precincts shows.

Vote tallies provided by the Cook County Clerk’s website show McDermott was by far the top vote-getter in Forest Park with 914 votes, or 66 percent of the total 1,375 votes cast in the election.

Voters were asked to pick four of six candidates.

McDermott’s slate-mate, Patterson, received 630 votes (or 46 percent). Board secretary and Westchester resident Brian Cross came in third with 487 (35 percent). Newcomer and Your Choice for Proviso slate member Teresa McKelvy was fourth with 460 (33 percent). Board President Dan Adams was the fifth top vote-getter in Forest Park precincts with 433 (31.5 percent) and longtime Chris Welch family friend Jorie Wright received the fewest Forest Park votes with 361 (26 percent of ballots cast).

Township-wide, McDermott was the top vote-getter, with 7,771 votes, beating out Brian Cross (7,768) by three votes and McKelvy by nine votes (7,762). Incumbent Dan Adams of the Your Choice For Proviso slate got 7,397 votes.

Township-wide, Your Choice slate member Jorie Wright came in fifth with 5,917 votes. Patterson was last with 5,391 votes.

“I was so disappointed,” Patterson said Sunday.

Proviso-wide, the four top vote-getters were statistically almost tied. But McDermott and Patterson were ahead by a significant gap in Forest Park.

McDermott gave some credit to the candidate forum hosted by Citizens United in Forest Park, which brought all six candidates to Forest Park.

“We did four forums in Maywood, Westchester, Forest Park and Berkeley,” McDermott said. “Not too many people came out, but it was good to get the message to the voters in person.” The CUinFP forum was also videotaped and posted online.

“I’m happy to be the top vote-getter [in Proviso],” McDermott said. “I was disappointed Della wasn’t elected.”

McDermott said he knew his slate faced an uphill battle because former board president Welch was actively running the Your Choice for Proviso slate. Welch marched in the Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day parade with the Your Choice group. The People for Emanuel “Chris” Welch Committee paid $3,250 for lawn signs, March 1, according to early reporting on the Cook County Clerk’s website. Also, the Del Galdo Law Group, the district’s attorneys, paid $9,387.83 to McGaffer for a mailing to Proviso residents on March 20.

McDermott said those payments indicated that Welch was still very much interested in running the district from behind the scenes.

“What do those contributions tell you? That this race was not about education but preserving contracts for buddies,” said McDermott, who noted that the atmosphere on the board was different in recent meetings with Welch absent. He hopes that means the board members will be able to find consensus to help the district’s students.

“The time for politicking is over and the time for governing has come,” he said.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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