Riverside is likely to see its first contested municipal election since 2009 next spring with at least four candidates running for village trustee.
That stage was set over the weekend as the membership of the Riverside Community Caucus voted to endorse incumbent Doug Pollock and newcomers Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga and Megan Claucherty for trustee.
The caucus membership also voted to endorse former trustee Joseph Ballerine for village president. He was the only candidate seeking the caucus’ endorsement in that race.
When the dust settled following the membership’s ranked-choice vote on Oct. 31, incumbent candidate Wendell Jisa was left on the outside looking in, along with Adrian Mendoza and Joel Marhoul.
Two other candidates, John Carroll and John McGlennon, withdrew from contention prior to last weekend’s caucus vote.
Jisa, who was elected to his first term in office in an uncontested race in 2017, told the Landmark he plans to run for trustee as an independent.
“I will be running for trustee in the upcoming 2021 election,” Jisa said in an email. “I am confident and hopeful Riverside will re-elect me based on the past four years of service and the need for continuity.”
Marhoul, who sits on the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the Riverside School District 96 Board of Education, indicated he will not pursue a run for village trustee.
“Although I am disappointed to not be on the caucus list, I was pleasantly surprised by the slate as it probably challenges some expectations,” Marhoul said in an email to the Landmark. “I was pleased to be recruited and be part of the committee’s process. I will continue to serve the community in my current roles.”
Mendoza did not respond to an email from the Landmark seeking information on whether he will run for trustee prior to the newspaper’s print deadline Tuesday.
Jisa and the caucus-endorsed candidates will now have to collect signatures and file nominating petitions with the Cook County Clerk in order to appear on the ballot for the April 6, 2021 Consolidated Election. They may do this individually or form a slate to collect signatures as a group.
In past elections, the Riverside Community Caucus has aided slates it endorses financially. That won’t be the case this time around, however, after the caucus was forced in 2019 to close its political campaign committee after failing to pay fines levied by the Illinois Board of Elections for violating disclosure filing rules.
But Kimber Coombes, the chair of the caucus’ recruiting committee, indicated that the organization would still be a resource for candidates it has endorsed.
“Some ways that we can help the candidates include helping to gather signatures, encouraging our members to display yard signs, distribute literature and information to our members via email, and promote their candidacy via our social media platforms,” Coombes told the Landmark.
Ballerine, the only Riverside resident who’s announced he’s running for president, said he would welcome joining others endorsed by the caucus to run as a slate.
“I’d have no problem putting my name alongside any of them,” said Ballerine, who praised the caucus’ recruiting committee for attracting and vetting candidates.
“There were eight very good candidates, all of them qualified and dedicated,” Ballerine said. “Everyone went through a thorough vetting.”
The last time Riverside had a contested election of any kind for president and trustee was in 2009, when a slate of candidates – three for trustee and one for president – swept aside a slate endorsed by the Riverside Community Caucus.
No one from that slate ran for re-election in 2013 and a caucus-endorsed slate, featured Ben Sells as the presidential candidate and Pollock as one of the three trustee candidates, won unopposed.
Ballerine said the prospect of a contested election was fine with him.
“Wendell’s a good candidate,” said Ballerine, who served as trustee from 2011-19 after a two-year stint in the late 1990s. “If it’s contested, it’s contested. I don’t have a problem running on my record.”