Despite losing his last three runs for office in Brookfield, a former village president, Bill Russ, has decided to explore running for the Cook County Board.

Russ, who served as Brookfield president from 2001 to 2005 said last week that he is seeking signatures to get on the ballot in the Democratic primary for the 16th District county board seat currently held by Riverside Republican Tony Peraica.

Russ said he is trying to gather signatures on nominating petitions to see if he can get on the ballot and to test reaction to his possible candidacy.

“I’ve got to see if I can do it,” Russ said.

Russ is planning to run as a Democrat even though he has sought office before as a Republican. He lost a Republican primary in a race for state representative in 1990 and lost a race for Lyons Township Republican committeeman in 1998.

He said he has decided to run as a Democrat for both practical and ideological reasons. He said that he voted Democratic in the last election.

“The area has turned more Democrat,” Russ said. “I believe in a lot of the Democrat views, but I think there’s got to be somebody who used to think like a Republican to get in there and try to be a good Democrat and line things up.”

Russ said that the county should roll back its recent sales tax increase.

“I think we need to keep more businesses in the county and not be hiking the tax and causing more people to move out of the county,” Russ said. “In the long run you hurt yourself. People will shop somewhere else. Businesses are moving out.”

Losing in the non-partisan village president race to Michael Garvey in 2005, a race for village trustee in 2007 and a race for village clerk in 2009 have not deterred Russ.

“You can’t gauge it by Brookfield,” Russ said. “The PEP Party has always campaigned that Bill Russ knows people in Cicero, he knows people in Berwyn. Bill Russ knows all these out-of-town people. I do know a lot of people in all these towns. That’s going to play a benefit. My name’s going to play a benefit.”

Russ, who had just $84.01 in his campaign committee treasury on June 30 faces an uphill battle in the Feb. 2, 2010 primary. McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski is also running for the Democratic nomination.

Tobolski had $28,875 in his campaign treasury on June 30 according to state records, and Tobolski told the Landmark last week that he recently raised around $100,000 at a fundraiser.

Tobolski also told the Landmark that he is being supported by North Riverside Mayor Ken Krochmal, Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero, Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico, Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and State Senator Lou Viverito (D-Burbank).

Countryside Mayor Robert Conrad said Monday that he is considering joining the Democratic race, but has yet to make a final decision.

Former Berwyn Mayor Michael O’Connor had been planning a run for the Democratic nomination, but has decided not to run after accepting a job in the private sector.

On the Republican side, Peraica is running for his third term. Peraica lost races for Cook County Board president and Cook County State’s Attorney in 2006 and 2008 respectively. No Republican opponent has yet emerged to challenge Peraica, but that could change before nominating petitions are due on Nov. 2.

Michael LaPidus, who challenged Peraica in a close and bitterly contested race for Lyons Township Republican committeeman in 2006, said he hasn’t ruled out running for the county board. LaPidus also said that he knows of one other person who may challenge Peraica. LaPidus declined to identify that individual other than to say the possible candidate is a lawyer.

Despite the big names and big money arrayed against him Russ said that he thinks the public may be looking for a candidate like him.

“Here’s an ordinary guy who’s not a millionaire,” Russ said. “Here’s an ordinary guy that’s not an attorney. Here’s an ordinary guy who has a modest home and a nice family who just wants to give it a shot.”