Two men have announced they’re running to become the next mayor of North Riverside, and a third candidate could be announced by Thanksgiving.
Late in 2011, George Georgopoulos announced he would be running as an independent for mayor. And last week, the North Riverside VIP Party confirmed that Hubert Hermanek Jr. would be its candidate for mayor.
VIP also announced that it was slating Vera Wilt, Joe Mengoni and Matt Decosola as its candidates for the three trustee seats up for election. Its candidate for village clerk will be Kathy Ranieri.
Georgopoulos, who ran unsuccessfully for trustee in 2009 and 2011, has already begun circulating nominating petitions.
“I’m almost half done,” said Georgopoulos last week. “I need another weekend or so.”
While he’s running as an independent, Georgopoulos has aligned himself with two other independent candidates for trustee, Richard Alvarez and Brian Przybylski.
Alvarez ran alongside Georgopoulos in 2009 as part of a slate for a party called Every Resident Counts. The slate, which was headed by mayoral hopeful Sylvester Hartigan, was tossed off the ballot. Alvarez was the party’s candidate for village clerk in 2009. The candidates subsequently ran unsuccessfully as write-ins. This is Przybylski’s first run at elected office.
In late 2011, Georgopoulos organized a petition drive to force a referendum on a $4 million bond issue to pay for a water meter replacement program and to restructure a bank loan the village couldn’t immediately pay with cash on hand.
While the petition drive succeeded, village officials skirted the referendum by issuing debt certificates instead of general obligation bonds. Debt certificates come with a higher interest rate.
“There’s a long list of issues that need to be addressed,” said Georgopoulos, whose campaign website has been live for months. “VIP is saying Costco is going to be an overnight success. … They’re making it sound so good and will fill in the gaps, but the taxes will not be coming like Edward Don.”
Meanwhile, the VIP Party intends on re-establishing its ties with North Riverside voters after a disastrous 2011 campaign that saw two of its three candidates for trustee, both longtime incumbents, lose to independents.
“Our overarching theme is reconnecting with the community,” said Mike Dropka, who is serving as VIP’s campaign manager. “We will be going into the community more than in recent years and reconnecting with residents. … It’s a team effort and that’s what we stand for.”
This time around, only one incumbent trustee, Wilt, is running to retain her seat on the board. Wilt was appointed to the village board in February after the resignation of Trustee Joan Sargent.
Hermanek will try to maintain VIP’s 24-year hold on the mayor’s seat. An attorney, Hermanek has been a village trustee since 2009 and sits on the board’s finance committee. He was formerly a member of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
According to Hermanek, the village is successfully digging itself out of the financial crash of 2008 that left North Riverside’s budget reeling.
“We got out of it and didn’t have to lay off any employees,” Hermanek said. “Everybody made cuts, but we didn’t disrupt services. I think the right decisions were made, and now we’re on the uptick.”
While Hermanek is correct in saying there were no layoffs, the village did encourage several longtime employees to retire. They were not replaced. The village board also raised fees for permits and licenses across the board, increased vehicle sticker fees, water rates and garbage collection rates. The board also cut popular village events such as the July 4 celebration and North Riverside Day.
Decosola and Mengoni are new candidates for the village board, though both have been politically active in the past. Decosola is a former president of the VIP Party and a current member of the North riverside Plan Commission.
Mengoni is presently a member of the North Riverside Library Board of Trustees. He was appointed to his seat on the library board in March 2011. That term is set to expire next April.
VIP’s candidate for clerk, Kathy Ranieri is also a newcomer to the village ballot. She has been active at Komarek School as a board member of the PTA. She also has ties to village government. She is the daughter of the late Charmaine Kutt, the former longtime village clerk, and the sister of Public Works Director Tim Kutt and Michelle Cozzone, who works in the village’s building department.
A third mayoral candidate and possibly a full slate could be announced by Thanksgiving, Rocco DeSantis told the Landmark last week. DeSantis, one of the two independent candidates elected as a village trustee in 2011, said that he and fellow Trustee H. Bob Demopoulos have officially joined forces and are deciding on who will run for mayor. It could be DeSantis, Demopoulos or a third candidate, said DeSantis.
“I don’t know if it will be me, Bobby or whether we’ll endorse someone else,” he said. “At this time I’m not ready to say anything. But someone is definitely going to be running against them.
“They all need to go.”