Chicago Tribune: Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau backing slate to challenge incumbent trustees, clerk

A slate of candidates backed by Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau have announced plans to run for three trustee seats and village clerk in next April’s election.

People Over Politics recently announced Sean Kampas, Joni Radaszewski and Brian Riordan as candidates for trustee and Constantine “Gus” Lekas as candidate for clerk. Pekau would head the ticket as he seeks a second term.

The slate would oppose three incumbent trustees and the clerk. In a release announcing the candidates Pekau said they would, if elected, “put an end to the political games and obstruction that have slowed our efforts to move Orland Park forward.”

Incumbent Trustee James Dodge said Tuesday he doesn’t plan to run for another term, and Trustee Dan Calandriello said he is considering running for reelection and would decide by Thanksgiving. Trustee Kathy Fenton could not be reached Tuesday.

The three became part of a vocal minority after the April 2019 election, when Pekau gained a majority on the board with the election of William Healy, Cynthia Nelson Katsenes and Michael Milani as trustees under the People Over Politics banner.

Calandriello, an attorney and formerly a Cook County assistant state’s attorney, has served on the board since 2013.

Dodge, a former sergeant in the Illinois Army National Guard, first served as village clerk in 1989 then was appointed trustee in 1996. He was the Republican nominee for state treasurer in 2018. He has been mentioned as a potential mayoral candidate in 2021, but said he has no plans to challenge Pekau.

Fenton and village Clerk John Mehalek, both up for reelection in the spring, were not immediately available for comment regarding their plans. Fenton has been a trustee since 1993 and Mehalek has been clerk since 2013.

Dodge defended the record of the incumbents.

“Orland Park is a great place now because of decades of sound financial management,” he said. “We’ve built a great town.”

Pekau said he reviewed several potential trustee and clerk candidates and consulted with Healy, Katsenes and Milani before the new slate was announced.

“I think they bring a wide variety of skill sets and ideas,” he said Tuesday. “They want to work together as a team for the improvement of Orland Park and its residents.”

People Over Politics reported having just under $1,000 available for its campaign at the end of the third quarter, but since the quarter ended the party has picked up contributions including $1,000 from the law firm of Klein Thorpe & Jenkins, the village’s law firm, and $5,000 from Pekau’s campaign committee.

People Over Politics also has a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday at Fox’s Pizza in Orland Park.

Candidate Kampas is a technology consultant and chairs the village’s technology commission, according to Pekau.

Radaszewski is director of marketing and business development for the Chicago law firm of Novack and Macey, and Pekau said she serves on the technology commission as well as the village’s economic development advisory board.

Riordan is a shareholder in the Chicago law firm Clausen Miller, which he joined in 1996 after graduating from Loyola University’s school of law. He is also a member of the policy and personnel advisory committee for Orland Elementary District 135.

Clerk candidate Lekas is an accountant in Orland Park, Pekau said.

Whoever is elected in the spring will be coming into jobs with a lower pay rate.

The Village Board recently approved a cut in salaries for trustees and the village clerk, and that followed a decision last year to cut the mayor’s pay.

Trustees now receive $13,629 annually and an ordinance approved by the board would reduce that by about a fourth to $10,350, starting with those elected in April.

That new salary would also apply to the clerk and the pay cut is more significant for that position, which now pays $27,257 a year.

Just before the 2019 election, when the composition of the board shifted in Pekau’s favor, trustees approved making the mayor’s job a part-time post after having previously approved a change to a full-time position.

The job now pays $150,000 a year and the mayor also receives $3,000 as liquor commissioner. The mayor’s salary would drop to $40,000 with the pay for liquor commissioner remaining at $3,000.

Before the 2017 mayoral election, in which Pekau defeated Dan McLaughlin, trustees approved changing the mayor’s job from part time to full time, with the added duties of being Orland Park’s lead person on economic development matters and working to bring businesses to the village.

The salary hike and the corresponding jump in pension became campaign issues, with Pekau saying in the lead-up to the election that because Orland Park has a village manager it did not need a full-time mayor.

Read the original article, by Mike Nolan, here.