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Keith Pekau Rages Against “Progressive” School Board Candidate Forum Despite Honoring “Progressive” Liberal Rep. Marie Newman Who Supports Vaccinating Children



By Illinois Review

On Wednesday evening, the League of Women Voters of Palos-Orland Area, in partnership with Orland135 Parents for Education, hosted a forum for local school board candidates in what was a respectful and civil conversation about the future of school district 135.

Six candidates were expected to attend the forum, but as a large group of parents were taking their seats – one couldn’t help but notice that only half of the candidates showed up to participate, leaving three empty seats in the front of the room.

The League of Women Voters school board candidate forum showing three empty chairs. (Facebook/League of Women Voters Palos-Orland Area)

Who were the candidates that skipped the forum?

The three that Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau has endorsed: Patti Thanos, Ryan Valon and Iwona Piwowarczyk – who make up his People Over Politics slate.

Earlier in the day, Pekau went to Facebook to complain about the candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters, calling them “progressives” and posting in all capital letters,


But with so much at stake, and Gov. JB Pritzker funneling $500,000 to school board candidates that support his extremist, liberal agenda, the forum represented a perfect opportunity to stand up and defend the rights of parents in front of a diverse crowd for a slate with limited funds to get their messages across.

The parents and children of district 135 expect their school board members to fight in the trenches during school board meetings; to stand up for what they believe in, in the face of opposition – and yet, Pekau is advising his candidates to only participate in discussions from friendly moderators and like-minded audience members.

If only life was that easy – when you can fast forward to only the good parts of your day and skip the rest.

The moderator announced that this is her 60th year with the League of Women Voters.

And the questions were not a trap – in fact, they were pretty basic. Questions during the forum included,

What’s your top 3 priorities for the district?

What’s your plan to make sure all schools are treated equally?

What’s your view on standards-based grading?

What’s your involvement in the community?

But for Pekau to rage on social media about the “progressive” Democrats hosting and supporting the forum is laughable.

In fact, it’s hypocritical.

During the January 16, 2023 Orland Park Village Board Meeting, Pekau had a special VIP guest in the room – La Grange resident and former US Rep. Marie Newman, a “progressive” Democrat who was in town to receive the Orland Park Community Appreciation Award from Pekau.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau praises and honors former US Rep. Marie Newman, a Democrat and member of the Progressive Caucus in Congress with a Community Appreciation Award during a board meeting on Jan. 16, 2023.

Pekau spent the last year attacking Newman on social media, even tweeting,

“Anti-police rhetoric & attempts to defund the police by radical leftists like Sean Casten & Marie Newman have put our communities at risk. As mayor of Orland Park, I’ve stood with law enforcement & kept our community safe. I’ll continue to do so as your congressman.”

But a year later, Pekau is publicly showering Newman with praise and honoring her with an award.

During her time in Congress, Newman was a member of the Progressive Caucus, even posting on Twitter a photo standing between New York Rep. Jerry Nadler and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, tweeting,

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus. Working every day to pass proven, practical and popular policies for the American people.”

During the pandemic, Newman and her husband Jim Newman owned shares in Moderna – the manufacturer of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

And so it is no surprise that Newman was supportive of vaccinating children during the pandemic, writing in a Facebook post,

“The COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for kids ages 5-11 in addition to everyone 12+. Vaccines are widely available across Illinois. Get vaccinated.”

Pekau also rewarded one of his largest campaign contributors and close personal friends, Ramzi Hassan, President of Orland Park-based Edwards Realty, with a six-figure consulting agreement to develop village-owned property along one of Orland Park’s busiest corridors.

But the biggest surprise is while Hassan is advising Pekau and his village board on a new development project, and sponsoring political events for his best friend, Hassan is also meeting with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and donating $5,000 to her failed re-election campaign.

On Dec. 27, 2022, Edwards Realty president and friend of Mayor Pekau contributed $5,000 to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign. (Source: Illinois State Board of Elections website).

Ramzi Hassan from Edwards Realty and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Hassan is a campaign contributor to both Pekau and Lightfoot’s campaigns, and he advises Pekau and the Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees.

And while Pekau is advising his slate of school board candidates to attend “friendly” forums only, on Tuesday, he’s hosting a Get Out The Vote Rally – featuring – and not surprisingly, his slate of candidates, including school board – at a $50 per person event where they can control the guest list.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau is hosting a Get Out The Vote Rally with his slate of candidates on March 21, 2023 with special guests Jeanne Ives and Richard Porter.

Featured speakers include Jeanne Ives, a close confidante and senior political advisor to Pekau, who endorsed his campaign for Congress on November 23, 2021.

Keith Pekau and Jeanne Ives during Pekau’s congressional campaign announcement on Nov. 23, 2021. Ives is a close confidante and senior advisor to Pekau, and she endorsed his campaign for Congress.

Ives was also key to securing financial support from conservative billionaire Richard Uihlein and his wife Elizabeth, who each personally donated $2,900 to Pekau’s congressional campaign.

Conservative billionaire Richard Uihlein, who bankrolled Ives’ campaign for governor in 2018, donates $2,900 to Pekau for Congress on Aug. 16, 2022.

In 2018, Uihlein bankrolled Ives’ campaign for governor, donating $2.5 million.

Also joining Pekau and Ives on stage Tuesday is Republican National Committeeman for Illinois Richard Porter, the architect of the Richard Irvin campaign slate, and the co-chairman of Irvin’s failed campaign for Illinois governor.

Recent revelations show that Porter’s law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, where he is a senior partner, donated to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in 2020, during the height of the pandemic and lockdowns.

In 2020, partners of the firm donated $680,670 to Joe Biden; $164,536 to Kamala Harris; and $80,400 to the Republican Party of Illinois.

In 2022, partners of the firm donated $269,100 to US Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL; $144,719 to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY; and $69,000 to the Republican Party of Illinois.

Kirkland & Ellis also represents Pritzker family interests, including Pritzker Private Capital.

In 2014, 2016 and 2020, Irvin pulled Democratic Primary ballots; and in 2020, he spoke at a Black Lives Matter rally shouting, “I can’t breathe!”

And Irvin spent years praising Democrat Gov. JB Pritzker, referring to him as a, “great friend and a great leader.”

During an Illinois Republican State Central Committee meeting in December, when conservative grassroots activists started heckling Porter about his support for Irvin during the primary, and questioning his Republican credentials, Porter shouted back, “Richard Irvin is a great Republican!”

Republican candidate for governor Richard Irvin, left, and Richard Porter, co-chairman of the Irvin for governor campaign sitting in Porter’s personal seats at the Cubs game in May of 2022. (Photo credit: Facebook/Mark Weyermuller)

Irvin, Porter and the IL GOP would lose the primary to conservative grassroots candidate and former State Senator Darren Bailey, who would beat Irvin by a stunning 43 points.

The Tuesday event is at the Silver Lake Country Club in Orland Park and begins at 5:30 pm.


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