Riverside resident and former Cook County commissioner Anthony Peraica is asking a Cook County judge to oust two local mayors from their positions because both are also elected members of the Cook County Board.
On April 18, Peraica filed the lawsuit in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He filed it on behalf of himself and “all other tax payers in Cook County” against Cook County commissioners Jeffrey Tobolski (D-16th) and Peter Silvestri (R-9th).
At the crux of a lawsuit is a state statute regarding people who are members of a county board. The law states, according to the suit, that no member of a county board may also be a member of a municipality’s board of trustees unless that town “has fewer than 1,000 inhabitants and is located in a county having fewer than 50,000 inhabitants.”
In addition to being a county commissioner, Tobolski is the mayor of McCook. Silvestri, meanwhile, is the village president of Elmwood Park.
Peraica states in his lawsuit that Tobolski and Silvestri are in violation of state law by holding both positions. In doing so, the suit states both men have “usurped” the powers of those local offices “to the damage and prejudice of the people of Cook County and against the peace and dignity of the state.”
Tobolski wouldn’t comment directly on the suit but stated that its timing is “suspicious,” given a pair of pending lawsuits involving him and Peraica.
In 2010, Peraica was arrested by McCook police for allegedly vandalizing campaign signs belonging to Tobolski. At the time, Peraica, the incumbent county commissioner for the 16th District, was locked in a battle against Tobolski. The arrest came the weekend before the election, which Peraica lost.
Peraica responded by filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging he was falsely arrested and detained by McCook police under the direction of Tobolski. The suit seeks monetary damages for defaming Peraica’s character and inflicting emotional distress. That case is set for a status hearing on July 30.
“I do find it suspicious that this action is being taken by Tony Peraica, given the fact that his trial takes place in July of this year, and that he was just interviewed on WBEZ about the loss of this election and the status of the lawsuit pending against him,” said Tobolski in an emailed statement. “This seems like the act of a desperate man who has lost three consecutive elections and is trying to remain relevant.”
Silvestri waved off the suit, saying he’s held both positions for the past 18 years and has never been challenged about it previously.
“I’m not concerned about it,” said Silvestri. “It’s been 18 years, so obviously if it was an issue, I would have learned about it by now. The bottom line is that the two positions are not incompatible.”
The lawsuit indicates that Peraica had requested the Illinois Attorney General to file the case against Tobolski and Silvestri, but that office refused to do so.
Tobolski also took a jab at the lawsuit, pointing out that his name is spelled incorrectly as “Tabolski” throughout.
“I question the viability of a lawsuit in which my name is not spelled correctly and would think that Tony Peraica would know how to spell it correctly after vandalizing my campaign signs,” Tobolski said.