Turns out, it was never in doubt. Ahead by just one vote at the end of election night on April 4, J. Edgar Mihelic’s claim to a second term on the Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees was anything but assured.
But with mail-in votes counted and certification imminent, Mihelic finally was able to declare victory for the fourth and final seat up for grabs this spring, defeating first-time candidate Karl Olson by the grand total of 20 votes, 959 to 939.
Mihelic was gracious in victory, saying he knew what it felt like to come up short in a contested election – he lost a Brookfield Library Board race in 2017 – and lauding Olson for throwing his hat into the ring.
“Karl Olson did not lose the election. I really didn’t beat him.,” Mihelic told the Landmark. “What we both did, as well as the other candidates, was to collect the signatures we needed to get on the ballot and volunteered our time as candidates and as potential trustees to serve the village of Brookfield.
“Anyone who does that is not a loser in my book. When it came down between the two of us, it became more or less a statistical coin flip where I prevailed. Hundreds of people voted for Karl Olson and the difference between us was very thin.”
Mihelic along with two-term incumbent Linda Kampschroeder and first-time candidates Jennifer Paliatka and Mitzi Norton will be sworn in as library trustees on May 8 during the Brookfield Village Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.
Paliatka led the field with 1,137 votes, followed by Norton (1,074) and Kampschroeder (1,061).
“I’m incredibly proud yet humbled by being selected by the voters in Brookfield to serve a second term on the board of trustees for the Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library,” Mihelic said. “I will do my best to represent all of the 19,000 people who live here and the generations in the future.”
Because the margin of victory between Mihelic and Olson was so close, Olson could have requested a recount by the Cook County Clerk’s Office, which administers suburban elections.
Reached last week, Olson called a recount “a step too far.”
“I trust our electoral process and the people who organize it,” Olson told the Landmark. “With 20 votes between Edgar and me, it’s time for me to write him a quick concession note. A recount would be a waste of taxpayer funds and build drama, not excitement for local issues.”
Olson who lives just a couple of blocks from the library said he was confident the elected trustees would steer the institution in the right direction and felt Mihelic and his colleagues on the board are “doing a fantastic job.”
“I have no doubt that Edgar and the rest of the board will continue their solid oversight of the library,” Olson said.
While he didn’t win, Olson said he plans to stay involved with the library as a volunteer.
“I ran because I love libraries, and ours in particular, and like to be involved with the town,” he said.
Village trustees-elect to be sworn in
Also at the May 8 village board meeting, the three candidates each elected to a four-year term as Brookfield trustee will also be sworn in. The village trustee election was uncontested.
Those elected include incumbent Katie Kaluzny, who won a second term on the board; Nicole Gilhooley, who formerly served two terms as a village trustee; and Julie Narimatsu, a first-time candidate who will leave her spot on the Brookfield Parks and Recreation Board to join the village board.