The Consolidated Election held every two years to choose suburban Cook County municipal leaders and school board members does not exactly fire up the voting public. Where you may get 70 percent of registered voters showing up to cast ballots for U.S. president, you’re lucky to get 20 percent to vote for the people making local spending decisions and setting village priorities.
And while voter turnout for the 2021 Consolidated Election, held April 6, was not great, North Riverside managed the third-highest turnout of any municipality in suburban Cook County according to election results published by the Cook County Clerk.
Unofficially, 1,829 North Riverside residents, or 35.87 percent, cast ballots in the April 6 election. The only municipalities with higher turnouts were Lyons (40.8 percent) and tiny McCook (40 percent), where just 64 total ballots were cast.
Both Lyons and North Riverside also featured bitterly contested elections for mayor and trustee, which certainly drove turnout there. In villages where there were no contested municipal elections – like Brookfield and Riverside – turnout was positively dismal.
Riverside’s voter turnout was 11.84 percent, while Brookfield’s was a minuscule 9.08 percent.
Looking at the precinct-level results in North Riverside also provides some insight into how voters in different parts of the village cast their ballots.
Even though Joseph Mengoni won the three-way race for mayor by a comfortable margin – by nearly 20 percentage points over his two opponents, incumbent Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. and Trustee Marybelle Mandel – Mengoni didn’t win every precinct.
Hermanek’s 82 votes in Riverside Township Precinct 12, which includes everything south of 26th Street and the 2500 blocks of Desplaines, Keystone and Forest avenues, were enough to win that area. Mengoni and Mandel had 69 and 67 votes, respectively in Riverside 12.
The incumbent mayor also had a strong showing in Riverside 6, his home precinct, where his 112 votes trailed Mengoni’s 140, but were far ahead of Mandel’s 63.
Mandel, who finished second overall in the race, did not win any precinct, but she came close in Riverside 13, her home precinct.
There she finished just 15 votes behind Mengoni, 197-182. Hermanek fared poorly in Riverside 12 with 105 votes.
Where Mengoni finished strongest was not in his home precinct of Riverside 6 but in Riverside 7 – bounded by First Avenue, 9th Avenue, 24th Street and 26th Street – where he took in 60 percent of the vote.
Mengoni also won about 52 percent of the votes in Proviso Township Precinct 102, outperforming his overall share of the vote, which was 46.6 percent. Mandel’s 510 votes finished ahead of Hermanek by just 53 votes.
In the race for village clerk, incumbent Kathy Ranieri swept every precinct over Carmen Circelli, while the North Riverside United Party trustee slate of Terri Sarro, Fernando Flores and Jason Bianco swept all but one precinct over the People Before Politics Party slate of Kevin Melvin, Sandra Greicius and Richard Wagner and independent Allan Pineda.
Melvin finished second in Riverside 12, three votes ahead of Flores and 23 votes behind Sarro.
Financial disclosures made by each of the three camps also shed some light on where backing came from and how those funds were spent.
The winning North Riverside United Party raised $23,055 on top of the $11,036 the party transferred into its coffers when the VIP Party dissolved as a political committee.
Among the party’s top contributors, according to its first-quarter filing with the Illinois State Board of Elections, was Scheck Mechanical Corporation, which contributed $5,000. The company was founded by former longtime Mayor Richard Scheck, who contributed $300 individually to North Riverside United, as did his wife, Judith Scheck.
Westmont resident John F. Simpson, an attorney, contributed $2,000, while the paving contracting firm Riccio Construction and the village’s engineering firm, Frank Novotny and Associates, each contributed $1,000.
The party spent the most of the three camps during the campaign, $11,084, including $6,200 for mailing and $2,200 for website design.
Friends of Hubert E. Hermanek Jr. raised $12,350 during the first quarter of 2021, with the largest contribution, $2,000, coming from Paramedic Services of Illinois, the village’s paramedic provider.
Contributing $1,000 were West Town Bank, Joe Rizza Ford, The Sweet Spot and Feroz Jalal, a self-employed businessman whose address is not listed in the filing.
Hermanek spent just $2,600, including a $1,600 spend on a billboard sign.
People Before Politics reported raising $4,850, the least amount of the three camps during the first quarter of 2021, and while almost all of those donation are listed as “itemized,” the party’s filing with the state does not list the donors.
The political committee reported spending $6,298, leaving it $1,448 in the hole at the end of the filing period. About $4,100 of the party’s expenditures were for printing political literature, signs and palm cards.