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HomeIllinois NewsKeith Pekau Ran in 2017 on Reducing Part-Time Mayoral Salary From $150K...

Keith Pekau Ran in 2017 on Reducing Part-Time Mayoral Salary From $150K to $40K, Now he Wants it Back After Losing Congressional Race



By Illinois Review

In 2017, Keith Pekau ran for Village President of Orland Park on a single issue: reduce the salary from $150,000 to $40,000. And his logic was simple.

Orland Park is a council-manager form of government where the Village Board of Trustees employs a full-time Village Manager to handle day-to-day operations, and therefore, there is no legitimate need to pay the head of the Board – the Village President, a six-figure salary.

Pekau won big in 2017, ousting longtime Village President of 24 years, Dan McLaughlin, by exposing how the difference in salary would impact the payout of McLaughlin’s pension by $2.1M dollars.

But once Pekau took office, he continued to collect the $150,000 salary annually for four straight years, netting himself $600,000 ($150,000 in each of 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021) as the part-time Village President of Orland Park.

Pekau argued that he was “bound” to collect the $150,000 annually, as the salary decrease would not take effect until the following term.

While Pekau may have been bound to collect the full salary, he was not bound to keep it and could have donated the $110,000 difference to charity, but Pekau did not.

President Donald J. Trump gave away his $400,000 presidential salary on a quarterly basis throughout his tenure as President of the United States.

In 2021, Pekau narrowly won re-election as Village President of Orland Park, beating former Village President Dan McLaughlin by just 510 votes.

Upon securing his re-election, Pekau was forced to start collecting the $40,000 salary that was the centerpiece of his 2017 campaign.

But there was an escape plan.

Pekau would run for Congress and if he won, he’d collect the $174,000 congressional salary – a salary far bigger than anything Pekau ever had collected before.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez famously worked as a bartender earning less than $30,000 in 2018 before winning the lottery and becoming the representative of NY-14, where she more than quintupled her salary to $174,000.

Pekau lost his bid for Congress by more than 9 points. It was a blowout that few saw coming, as just days before his election, Pekau had now-Speaker McCarthy at a fundraiser in Oak Brook.

Pekau gushed recently after McCarthy became the Speaker that in an apparent private conversation between the two, McCarthy told Pekau they would get along so long as Pekau did not surprise the future Speaker.

But in a calculated move, made only after Pekau confirmed that his hand-picked trustees were not going to be challenged in the April 4 elections, did Pekau release his latest surprise – a referendum to convert Orland Park from its council-manager style of government – like the #1 safest city in America, Naperville – to a mayor-council style of government like Chicago or Aurora.

In other words, by elevating the Village President position to full-time, Chicago-style mayor, and at the same time eliminating the need for a full-time Village Manager, Pekau would be set to reclaim his former $150,000 salary, and the pension perks that come with it.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago is facing 8 challengers for re-election and is trailing in the polls.

Mayor Richard Irvin of Aurora was blown out of the water in the June 28th Republican gubernatorial primary, losing to conservative candidate Darren Bailey by 43 points.

A Democrat supported by the IL GOP, Irvin participated in BLM rallies during the Summer of 2020, in one instance, yelling “I Can’t Breathe!” during a local protest.

Orland Park, a village of just over 50,000 residents, has been a manager-council form of government since 1983. That managerial style relies on a full-time Village Manager who reports directly to the Village Board of Trustees, of which the Village President is the chair.

Orland Park’s current Village Manager has held that position since 2019, after Pekau pushed out the former Village Manager.

The current Village Manager recently became a finalist for the Village Manager position in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The referendum on the ballot for Orland Park residents is whether the Village of Orland Park should retain its council-manager style of government.

A vote in favor is to keep the status quo.

A vote against is to opt for Chicago-style politics.

A ballot initiative committee, Vote Yes Orland Park, has published a website containing information sourced by the International City/County Management Association, a trade association for village managers.

The consolidated elections take place on April 4, 2023, and early voting begins on February 28, 2023.


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