By Illinois Review
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau suffered humiliating defeats as residents resoundingly rejected his power grab dubbed as a “referendum” by a shocking 31 points.
On February 13th, Illinois Review published one of the very first articles challenging Pekau and questioning his motives when he quietly pushed through a referendum that would expand his influence – making him the most powerful political figure in Orland Park in over forty years.
Since then, Illinois Review has published twelve articles exposing the real Pekau – writing about how he rewards top campaign donors with village contracts; viciously attacks constituents – especially women online; harasses and intimidates voters; bullies local business owners and first responders; follows people in his vehicle; and had bulletproof glass installed in the Orland Park Village board room to make it appear as if his life is in constant danger – something third world dictators do to make their constituents feel sorry for them.
On Tuesday night, voters also rejected Pekau’s slate of endorsed candidates, losing 9 out of 10 races – proving that an overwhelming majority of Orland Park residents rejected Pekau and anyone associated with the power-hungry and divisive mayor.
Although the mayoral election is in two years, Pekau’s performance on Tuesday night proves that he is already a lame duck mayor – and his power and influence dramatically weakened after suffering humiliating defeats on Tuesday night.
In the final week leading up to the election – and sensing defeat – Pekau and his very small group of allies were coming unglued – viciously attacking on social media and on radio, anyone who was not aligned with the power-hungry mayor or his slate of endorsed candidates, including this publication, which he refers to as a “newsletter” or “blog,” despite having over 400,000 subscribers nationwide and a recently added newspaper edition.
For example, on Monday, Orland Park voters were greeted with an unhinged robocall from Pekau that was over a minute in length. Far from promoting his referendum or his preferred candidates, Pekau used the opportunity to lash out in a nasty rant against none other than the publisher of Illinois Review.
Pekau also slammed constituents who opposed his referendum and were not supportive of his slate of candidates at a recent village meeting, saying these constituents are “vile” and must be “driven out” of town.
Pekau also went on Facebook to attack and argue with local firefighters and the firefighter union – on the same evening when two Chicago firefighters were injured, one killed in Chicago.
This behavior is shocking – attacking both constituents and first responders for all to see. And it’s no wonder voters overwhelmingly rejected Pekau and his candidates on Tuesday – he is a disgrace and gives a bad name to every person in elective office.
Cook County Republican Party chairman Sean Morrison – a close friend and ally who endorsed Pekau during his failed congressional campaign, rushed to Pekau’s defense in the final days of the election, recording a robocall that attacked the publisher of Illinois Review with lies, calling the conservative mega-Trump donor and personal friend of the Trump family, a “Democrat.”
Unlike Morrison, who, sources confirm, secretly made a deal with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot during her last election – a quick glance at our publisher’s donation history proves his Republican bona fides.
For Morrison to suggest that our publisher is a Democrat, is laughable. And it’s a typical attack line coming from Team Pekau.
Don Tracy, chair of the Republican Party of Illinois, and a close friend and ally of Pekau also recorded a robocall and sent out a text message for the power-hungry and divisive mayor – borrowing his talking points and urging Orland Park residents to go out and vote.
Pekau has remained silent online since his humiliating defeats, but Illinois Review expects the damaged and defeated mayor and his allies to resume their attacks.
And hopefully they do – because it will only reinforce the point why voters overwhelmingly rejected Pekau and anyone associated with him on election night.
The world can be a lonely place – and Pekau will soon find that out.
Before going into other things, congratulations to the voters of Orland Park who chose to keep the Board-Manager form of government instead of switching to a strong village president form of government Great job voters, and the nearly 2-1 defeat of the referendum proof voters like the Board-Manager form of municipal government.
Looking forward to Illinois Review insight to the aftermath of the April 4 Consolidated Election, outside of the city of Chicago. While the state Republican Party will justifiably be taking some of the blame, the reason for conservatives’ dismal showing is not only on the Republican state central committee, in spite of what the Democratic Party of Illinois (DPI) did in contested local school and library board races.
In spite of conservatives’ being wiped out in contested school board races across the state by the DPI ground game, I’ll start with the bright spots.
Yes, there were bright spots in the cities of Joliet, Naperville and Springfield electing center-right mayors, with Joliet and Springfield voters throwing out incumbent mayors (and in Joliet’s case, by a supermajority in a 3-person field). Naperville Mayor-elect Scott Wehrli’s convincing win on Tuesday bouyed by, according to unofficial returns, nearly 56% of the vote from the Will County portion of Naperville, which was where his leading Democrat-backed opponent, City Councilmember Benny White lived (not to mention Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D, IL-14) who backed White openly and financially), and where White has been an elected official for 10 years, including a 4-year term on the local school board (Indian Prairie School District 204).
In local school board races, in spite of DPI-backed candidates winning nearly 90% of contested races, in McHenry County, conservatives flipped the Algonquin-based Huntley School District 158 (D158), which was a true grassroots movement started by the D158 Parent Union, and four self-described “Common Sense Candidates” combining resources through the McHenry County Citizens for Lower Taxes PAC (MCCFLT), which was bankrolled by former congressional candidate Catalina Lauf with $15K from her congressional campaign, and led in the field by a Republican township chairman from McHenry County, Grafton Township Republican Chairman Orville Brettman. The results in D158 showed a sweep of D158 school boardby all four candidates backed by MCCFLT, propelling them into the D158 school board majority.
But D158 school board sweep and the mayoral victories in Joliet, Naperville and Springfield along with the Board-Manager Orland Park referendum win were the exceptions on April 4, not the rule.
Nowhere is that seen better than in Kendall County, in the village of Oswego. The DPI-backed candidates for Oswego D308 school board swept the conservative slate thanks to the DPI get-out-the-vote effort.
While DPI’s initiative focused on school and library boards, an overlooked DPI latent victory in the midst of the Oswego D308 school board strategy — the flipping of the entire Oswego Village Board from all Republican to 4-3 Democratic control, including ousting incumbent Republican Village President Troy Parlier with Democrat President-elect Ryan Kaufmann.
Oswego went to established political parties participating in municipal elections as a brain child of Kendall County Republican Party Chairman James Marter back in 2017, and after 2021, the entire elected Village Board was controlled by Republicans. No more “independents” running and winning seats on the Oswego Village Board, a candidate had to be a Republican.
This year, a contested Republican primary for Oswego village president and 3 trustee seats took place on February 28, with incumbent Republicans winning renomination. The Democratic slate was uncontested, so their 4 candidates waited until after February 28 to begin their campaigns in earnest.
All 4 of the Republican Oswego village ticket lost on Tuesday, including James Marter’s incumbent trustee son, James Marter, II.
While the elder Marter started using partisan municipal elections to run candidates for Village Board, come 2025, DPI may perfect the Marter model in cities/villages across the state with population over 5,000 that do not have the nonpartisan election of municipal officials on the books.
Will DPI expand its odd-year election program initiative in order to not only maintain leftist control of local school boards, but take over township boards, particularly townships large enough to run established political party slates?
If you were DPI, what would you do?
The cost of DPI’s grassroots efforts for local school and library boards reportedly cost $300K. Expanding their grassroots effort to include municipal boards and townships, would not cost that much more.
Hopefully, grassroots conservatives will see this oncoming storm not only for the fall of 2024, but in the spring of 2025, and focus their efforts between now and petition filing for next year’s primary election to ensure every precinct is filled with hard-working grassroots volunteers.
Conservatives’ candidate credibility in Illinois, even at the local level, may hang in the balance.