After a campaign that saw candidates spend more time in the courtroom debating ampersands than out in the public debating issues, North Riverside voters turned to the VIP Party in droves and ushered the party to a sweep over its rivals from the Transparency & Accountability in Politics Party.
Unopposed in the race for mayor, Hubert Hermanek Jr. collected 816 votes. While there were voters who wrote in names of other candidates on the special ballots printed for the election, the county clerk was ordered not to count those votes by a circuit court judge last week.
Rocco DeSantis, the TAP mayoral candidate tossed off the ballot in an electoral challenge, said in Riverside Township precinct 12 he knew he had received 64 write-in votes to Hermanek’s 93 votes.
That precinct was the one where TAP fared best. It’s unlikely that DeSantis could mount a legal challenge based on write-in ballot totals. He expressed disappointment that the electoral challenge had sapped so much energy and time from his party’s campaign.
“If I had time to campaign properly, I think we would have won,” said DeSantis. “In a fair election, I would have beaten Hugh by 2-to-1, minimum. We did the best we could with only seven days to prepare.”
Hermanek could not be reached for comment.
In races for clerk and trustee, VIP easily surpassed the vote totals of their TAP counterparts. Incumbent Vera Wilt and newcomers Joseph Mengoni and Matthew Decosola led the seven-candidate field with 716, 678 and 662 votes respectively.
Finishing fourth was TAP candidate Marybelle Mandel, who picked up 387 votes. She was followed by Annabelle Downs (353 votes) and Luigi “Gino” Labellarte (343). Independent trustee candidate Richard Alvarez trailed the field with 171 votes.
VIP defeated TAP solidly in four of the five precincts. The precinct where TAP finished strong was in Riverside Township 12, the home base for several of TAP’s candidates.
In that precinct, both Mandel and Downs topped Decosola and narrowly trailed Wilt and Mengoni.