Primary voters in Riverside, Brookfield and North Riverside showed an affinity for outsiders in last week’s presidential primary delivering a solid majority to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and a solid plurality to businessman Donald Trump in the Republican primary.
Statewide, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eked out a narrow victory over Sanders in the Democratic primary by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin. But in the three villages around here Sanders dominated, winning 61 percent of the vote in Brookfield and 56 percent of the Democratic vote in both Riverside and North Riverside.
Sanders received 57 percent of Riverside Township, which includes almost all of Riverside and most of North Riverside and the Hollywood section of Brookfield.
Riverside Township was Sanders’ strongest township in all of suburban Cook County.
Sanders dominated among young voters. Anthony Del Pizzo, 21, of Brookfield was one of Sanders young supporters. Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, appealed to Del Pizzo.
“His socialist views on certain problems that the country faces are going to be a welcome change,” Del Pizzo said after voting for the first time at S.E. Gross Middle School.
Christopher Dunigan, 27, of Brookfield also voted for Sanders.
“I like his social leanings and his stance on the economic divide of our society right now,” Dunigan said.
Sanders also won the vote of many voters not in their 20s.
Paul D’Amato, of Riverside, said that it was the first time he ever had a chance to vote for someone who really reflected his views. He said that he liked that Sanders favors socializing medicine and education and challenges the power of corporations.
“It was kind of a tactical vote,” D’Amato said. “I expect Hillary to win the nomination, but I want to throw as much support as I can, not really for a socialist candidate, but finally a liberal candidate which we haven’t seen in a long time, since FDR.”
Carolyn Frame, a librarian at an Oak Park School and resident of Riverside, also supported Sanders.
“I think he really does care about the working class and the middle class,” Frame said.
But Amy Lofgren, of Brookfield, voted for Clinton, thinking she was best qualified to be president.
“I think she is a wise woman and I’ve followed her for a long time and I think she’d be good for us,” Lofgren said.
Like many Democratic voters, Gonzo Schexnayder, the president of the Hollywood Citizens Association, was conflicted. How conflicted? Well, he voted for Clinton in the so-called beauty contest part of the ballot but split his five votes for delegates to this summer’s Democratic convention, voting for three Clinton delegates and two delegates pledged to Sanders.
“I feel passionate about Sanders’ policies, but I think Clinton has a better chance of beating anybody in the Republican Party,” Schexnayder said.
Republicans go for Trump
Trump rode his outsider appeal as someone who freely speaks his mind and promises to shake up the status quo to victories in the local area and statewide.
In this area, Trump did best in North Riverside, racking up 48 percent of vote compared to just 23 percent for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and 17 percent for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Trump did almost as well in Brookfield, where he won 42 percent of the vote in the Republican primary compared to 27 percent for Cruz and 20 percent for Kasich. Trump won every precinct in Brookfield except in the Hollywood neighborhood (Riverside 11) where Cruz edged him out 83 votes to 77.
It was much closer in Riverside, as Kasich finished only 49 votes behind Trump in the village. Trump won the village of Riverside with 495 votes or 36 percent; Kasich received 446 votes or 32 percent, while Cruz received 22 percent of the vote in Riverside.
Statewide, Kasich did better in more affluent areas, for example, winning New Trier Township handily with nearly 50 percent of the vote.
Trump won Illinois with 39 percent, while Cruz finished second with 30 percent, and Kasich finished third with 20 percent of the vote.
Trump’s audacious style won over some voters.
“I like him because he just rips apart the politically correct bull—,” said one Brookfield voter who would only give his first name as John.
However, John’s wife voted for Cruz.
“I was scared of Trump,” she said declining to give her name.
Josh Jones, a former candidate for the Brookfield Village Board, voted for Trump.
“He’s got the business background that I really like, and I think it’ll be something different,” Jones said. “It’s just time for a change, time for something different rather than a career politician.