While the result of the April 9 election in Brookfield wasn’t unusual — the PEP Party swept its sixth consecutive race — it was notable for one reason.
For the first time since at least 1997 (the vote totals are not available prior to 1998 on the Cook County Clerk’s website), a PEP Party presidential candidate won Lyons Township.
President-elect Kit Ketchmark walked away with a plurality of the vote, 43.7 percent, in Lyons Township’s five precincts. Bill Russ collected 40.1 percent of the vote, while Michael Towner received 16.1 percent.
Ketchmark also won three of the township’s five precincts, while Russ won the remaining two precincts bounded roughly by Southview Avenue on the north, Shields Avenue on the south, Custer Avenue on the east and Raymond Avenue on the west. The Congress Park neighborhood and two other precincts south of Shields favored Ketchmark.
“It’s tough with a third person involved to see how it all shakes out,” said Ketchmark. “I think overall it pretty much broke out the way we thought it would break out. Does a bigger turnout change those percentages? I doubt it.”
Despite a three-way race for president, a six-way village trustee race and contested school board elections in Proviso and Riverside townships, just 23 percent of registered voters turned out in Brookfield.
In both Lyons and Proviso townships, Towner appeared to shave votes from each of the other two candidates, perhaps more from Russ.
Russ certainly believed that to be the case.
“I feel that I would have got most of the Towner votes all over town,” said Russ. “Anyone who voted for me and Towner were unhappy with PEP.
“I would have been a lot closer to beating Kit if we were one-on-one.”
In 2005 when Russ lost his last race for president, he captured 53.3 percent of the vote in Lyons Township. VIP candidate Wil Brennan also took Lyons Township in 2009, but by the barest of margins, less than 1 percent.
But if Russ were Ketchmark’s only opponent, he might have won Lyons Township easily. If Russ received just a third of the votes Towner collected in Lyons Township, he would have won the township. If he received two-thirds, he would have won it handily.
Elsewhere in the village, though, it was a different story. Ketchmark did well in PEP’s traditional strongholds in Proviso and Riverside townships. He got 58.8 percent of the vote in Proviso Township, 62.4 percent of the vote in Riverside Township and won every precinct in both places.
Russ and Towner lagged far behind in those two townships, with neither getting more than 21 percent of the vote. Perhaps surprisingly, Russ and Towner ran pretty much neck-and-neck in Proviso and Riverside townships, with Towner having a slight edge overall.
However, Russ defeated Towner in four of the seven precincts in Proviso Township, which is Towner’s home turf.
But even combining Russ and Towner’s votes in the overall picture, neither would have been able to beat Ketchmark, who collected 54 percent of the total vote in Brookfield.
Still, PEP won a smaller percentage of the vote in the presidential race in 2013 compared to both 2005 and 2009. When Michael Garvey defeated Russ in 2005, he collected 61.1 percent of the vote. When Garvey was re-elected in 2009, he got 59.6 percent of the vote.
On the other hand, PEP’s three winning trustee candidates fared slightly better against their competitors in 2013 than they had in 2009.
In 2013 PEP candidates Nicole Gilhooley, Garvey and Brian Oberhauser received between 19.5 and 21.4 percent of the vote. Their independent competitors, Mitch Mierop, Daniel Gribben and Yvonne Prause received between 12.5 and 13 percent.
Back in 2009, PEP’s candidates captured between 18.8 and 20 percent of the vote while their three challengers from the VIP Party collected between 13.2 and 14.6 percent.
The independents in 2013 fared best in Lyons Township but were shut out of the top three in every precinct in Proviso and Riverside townships.
Mierop was the leading vote getter among all trustee candidates in Lyons Township, while Garvey and Gilhooley finished second.
All three independents swept the same two Lyons Township precincts that Russ won in the presidential race. Mierop finished in the top three in four of the five precincts in the township, giving support to the theory that Towner grabbed votes that otherwise would have gone to Russ.
“They should start an independent party and all three run in two years,” said Russ.