What a difference four years makes. In 2017, Marybelle Mandel and H. Bob Demopoulos squared off against one another in a race for North Riverside mayor that saw them largely split the vote and hand an easy second term win to Hubert Hermanek Jr.
On Dec. 10, the two filed papers with the Illinois Board of Elections indicating they are co-chairs of a new political organization called the People Before Politics Party, which will be fielding a full slate of candidates to run for mayor, clerk and trustee in the April 2021 Consolidated Election.
Mandel will head that slate of candidates in her second run for the mayor’s job after winning a seat on the village board as a trustee in 2019.
Running alongside her for the three trustee seats up for grabs next fall are Kevin Melvin, who ran unsuccessfully for trustee on a slate with Demopoulos in 2017, and first-time candidates Sandra Greicius and Richard Wagner.
While neither has run for office before, Wagner has been active behind the scenes with Mandel in the past and is an administrator of the North Riverside Open Forum community on Facebook, a private group of some 1,700 members where Mandel posts regularly.
Running with the People Before Politics Party for village clerk is Carmen Circelli, a friend of Mandel’s who attends village board meetings regularly.
Candidates for office may begin filing nominating petitions on Dec. 14 and must file them with the village clerk’s office no later than close of business on Dec. 21.
The appearance of the slate will put them directly up against a coalition of former VIP Party members who have formed a new group, North Riverside United Party. Kathy Ranieri is running for a third term as village clerk, while Fernando Flores and Terri Sarro seek second terms as trustees. The party’s third trustee candidate is Jason Bianco, who previously served in that capacity.
While the trustee and clerk races appear to be head-to-head affairs, the race for mayor in 2021 will be a three-way competition. North Riverside United is running Joseph Mengoni for the post, while the incumbent, Hermanek, is running for his third term – this time as an independent.
In that way, the 2021 election will be something of a mirror image from the one four years ago. Conventional wisdom would suggest Hermanek and Mengoni splitting the vote and providing an easier path to victory for Mandel.
The two men have said they are committed to running and will let voters decide who they feel is the best candidate.
The Landmark’s attempt to interview Mandel prior to the newspaper’s print deadline was unsuccessful.
Candidates begin filing for election
Dec. 14 was the first day for candidates to file nominating petitions for the April 6, 2021 Consolidated Election, but The People Before Politics Party was not among those at village hall Monday morning to do so.
That was not unexpected, however, as Mandel has made it a practice in prior elections to file nominating petitions toward the end of the filing period, which this year is at 5 p.m. on Dec. 21.
Filing on Monday morning were Hermanek as independent for mayor and Jason Bianco on behalf of the North Riverside United Party slate of candidates. Bianco is running for trustee on that slate, along with Terri Sarro and Fernando Flores, both incumbents. Joseph Mengoni, now a trustee, is running for mayor on that slate, while incumbent Village Clerk Kathy Ranieri seeks a third term in that post.
Hermanek also filed nominating petitions on Monday morning for Allan Pineda, who is running as an independent for village trustee. Pineda is presently treasurer of the North Riverside Public Library District Board of Trustees and has been both chairman and secretary of the North Riverside Civil Service Commission.