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Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau Supporting Local Candidate with Ties to Mike Madigan and Gery Chico



By Illinois Review

“A man is known by the company he keeps” is a profound quote often attributed to the Greek slave and storyteller, Aesop. And as Illinois Review learns more about the company that Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau keeps, the identity of who he is comes into focus.

Previously, Illinois Review reported on Pekau’s praise for former Congresswoman Marie Newman, Democrat, who Pekau invited to an Orland Park village board meeting last month as a VIP and honored her with a special Community Appreciation Award.

Pekau even went so far as to excitedly announce that Newman would be better at serving Illinois’ sixth congressional district than Rep. Sean Casten (D, IL-06), who beat Pekau by more than 9 points in the last election cycle. Newman’s only accomplishments in her single term as Congresswoman include pushing a radical transgender equality bill and stockpiling the district with COVID vaccines and boosters, while she and her husband profited off the stock of Moderna, one of the manufacturers of the COVID vaccine.

Earlier this week, Illinois Review reported that one of Pekau’s major donors, Ramzi Hassan, president of Orland Park-based Edwards Realty, recently donated $5000 to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s re-election campaign. In March 2021, Pekau and Hassan signed a consulting agreement giving Edwards Realty $10,000 a month to assist Pekau and the Orland Park village board develop the Orland Park Main Street Triangle project, a massive land deal worth in excess of $253M.

On the April 4th ballot, Orland Park voters will find a referendum being pushed by Pekau and his hand-picked board, none of whom face re-election pressure, to transform Orland Park from a manager-council form of government – the prevailing governance model for Chicagoland’s safest and most prosperous suburbs like #1 Safest City Naperville – into a mayor-council form of government like Chicago.

If Pekau’s identity as a Chicago Machine operative is not abundantly clear already, consider what else Pekau has his hands on in this election cycle: the Orland Fire Protection District (OFPD), an independent fire district covering Orland Park, Orland Hills, and other unincorporated portions of Orland Township. The OFPD has a best-in-the-nation Save Rate – meaning that if you’re having issues like cardiac arrest and call the OFPD for help, your chances of survival are better in Orland Township than most anywhere else in the country.

Currently, two spots on the OFPD board of trustees are open, and Pekau is pushing an interesting candidate: President of Orland Park Mazda, Eric Vates, who was a large donor to Pekau’s congressional campaign.

Vates through his Mazda dealership has funded CATPAC, the Chicago automobile trade association political action committee, which has made substantial donations to disgraced former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, among other top Illinois Democrats.

But Vates also has made a large personal donation to Gery Chico, an ally of and donor to Madigan, who was indicted last March on federal racketeering charges relating to a bribery scheme involving ComEd and AT&T. Much like Madigan, Chico has built a lucrative legal practice getting tax breaks and city contracts for a Who’s Who of Chicago companies doing business with the city.

Eric Vates’ donation to Gary Chico. (Source: IllinoisSunshine.org)

Chico previously served as Chair of the State Board of Education, and during his tenure he had to abstain from over 400 votes because of conflicts of interest with his own law firm clients. In one such conflict of interest, Chico threatened to withhold his vote on a waiver to federal law impacting Chicago Public Schools (CPS) if it jeopardized CPS’ requirement to set aside money for supplemental education services. Chico’s wife, Sunny, presided over a consulting firm at that time that had received $1.26M from CPS for providing supplemental education services.

Chico had a failed run for Chicago mayor in 2019. After losing the primary, Chico endorsed Lori Lightfoot, saying that she would “be stronger on ethics reforms.”

It is no wonder why Pekau wants to bring the Chicago Machine form of government to Orland Park. He already has the Chicago Machine’s donors.


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