On April 17, political committees were required to file quarterly reports with the Illinois State Board of Elections, giving some insight into who funded campaigns involved in the April 4 Consolidated Election.
And while it doesn’t tell the whole story – expenditures and contributions less than $1,000 made between April 1 and Election Day won’t be disclosed until July – the campaign filings indicate where financial support came from.
Some clear funding patterns emerged in the race for North Riverside mayor and trustee, themes familiar to anyone who has followed North Riverside politics in recent years.
The VIP Party, which has dominated local politics for three decades and swept the April 4 election, relies heavily on contributions from municipal vendors and area politicians friendly with party power brokers.
The party collected a little more than $36,000 during the first quarter of 2017, on top of another $10,000 in the bank at the end of 2016.
The candidates in the election themselves contributed $3,050 total to the committee, with Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. and Trustee Joseph Mengoni each contributing $1,000. Village Administrator Guy Belmonte, who is a longtime VIP Party official, also chipped in $1,000.
Area politicians and their associated political committees also contributed $2,700, with $2,000 of that coming from Friends of Jeffery Tobolski, the campaign fund of the McCook mayor and Cook County commissioner. VIP also received small donations from the committees associated with Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone and Lyons Village President Christopher Getty.
Other large contributors were Edmund Wanderling ($750) a North Riverside attorney who has been a loyal supporter for years; Riccio Construction ($1,500), a Palos Park business that also has contributed heavily over the years to campaign committees associated with Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero and Cicero Town President Larry Dominick; Judith Scheck ($1,000), the wife of longtime former North Riverside Mayor Richard Scheck.
Though the Schecks moved to Oak Brook in 2009, they still regularly attend North Riverside village board meetings and remain influential inside VIP.
But the bulk of the party’s first quarter contributions — $9,000 — came from firms and people who do business with the village, including Metro Towing ($1,000), Odelson and Sterk Attorneys ($1,500), Attorney Thomas Brescia ($1,000), Novotny and Associates ($1,000), Paramedic Services of Illinois ($1,500), Roy Strom Refuse and Recycling ($1,500) and SafeSpeed LLC ($1,500).
The challengers in the 2017 election – the Municipal Village Party, led by Trustee H. Bob Demopoulos — raised a little more than $9,000 in the first quarter of 2017. Demopoulos himself was his biggest contributor at $1,350 and he received another $1,000 from his business partner, Jim Demopoulos.
A full 30 percent of MVP’s campaign funding — $2,700 came from six individual North Riverside firefighters and the Berwyn Firefighters Union. And another $1,000 apiece came from attorney Michael Castaldo and the firm Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & Dinolfo. Both provide legal services to municipalities.
It’s unclear who contributed or how much was contributed to the campaign fund created in March by mayoral candidate Marybelle Mandel. As of April 24, the committee hadn’t filed a quarterly report with the state board of elections.
The winning candidates in Brookfield, who were slated by the PEP Party, set up a separate campaign fund specifically for the 2017 election. That fund, called the PEP Party Campaign Committee, took in $16,000 during the first quarter of 2017, all of its transferring from the party’s main political committee, called Peoples Economy Party.
Much of the $16,000 was taken in by Peoples Economy Party in 2016 and included contributions from firms that do business with the village, including Edwin Hancock Engineering ($1,500); Groot Industries, the village’s waste hauler ($1,000); Lyons Pinner Electric Company ($500) and Storino, Ramello and Durkin, the village’s legal counsel ($500). Friends of Jeffrey Tobolski also contributed $500 in 2016.
In the first quarter of 2017, Peoples Economy Party collected $12,500, about $5,200 of which was from donations of $150 or less. PEP Party candidates, members and their employers/businesses contributed a total of $3,560.
Other large contributors were Groot Industries ($500), Hancock Engineering ($500), Hitzeman Funeral Home ($500) and Village Attorney Richard Ramello ($500).
The challengers in the 2017 Brookfield elections, the Common Sense Party, collected $12,235 in a push that really didn’t get started until the very end of February, when Roberto “Bobby” Garcia established the party’s campaign committee.
Still the party benefited greatly from a $5,000 contribution from Teamsters Local 705, which has been complaining about treatment of the village public works employees for about a year.
While that was the party’s biggest single contribution, the party also got $1,000 each from video gambling machine vendors Gold Rush Amusements and Ideal Amusements and $500 from Nicholas Cosentino, who appears to be connected to Gold Rush Amusements.
Las Delicias de Michoacan, an ice cream shop in Cicero, donated $1,000 to the party’s campaign fund.
Donations of $500 came from Odelson and Sterk Ltd., which was once the village of Brookfield’s law firm under President Bill Russ, and Lombard resident Laura Neil.
Garcia loaned his campaign $5,000, according to board of elections records. The only other candidate on the Common Sense Party slate to donate at least $150 was Leilani Cappetta, the slate’s candidate for clerk, who gave $300. None of the slate’s three trustee candidates is listed as a contributor on the quarterly filing.