Aurora, Algonquin upset victories may indicate trend, radio host says
Upset victories in Aurora and Algonquin Township may indicate a possible trend of unseating incumbents in state level and municipal elections, co-hosts of a Chicago-based radio talk show said during a recent episode.
The message of those victories is clear, Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder Pat Hughes said during a recent edition of Illinois Rising, which he co-hosts with Dan Proft — a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
"It sends a message to everybody in the state that no politician, no matter how entrenched — no Democrat particularly — has a permanent foothold on any particular office," Hughes said. "Illinois is movable, bit by bit, piece by piece."
The Aurora race included a loss for mayoral candidate Rep. Linda Chapa La Via (D-Aurora), who was said to have the backing of House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago).
Chapa La Via was among five Aurora residents who turned in petitions to run for mayor of the city in the February 2017 Consolidated Election. Others were longtime resident Jose Luis Del Bosque, Ward Six Alderman Michael B. Saville, Aurora assistant chief of staff Richard E Guzman and Aurora alderman at large Richard C. Irvin.
Guzman was widely viewed to have bipartisan support. He was endorsed by Kane County Board Chairman and former Republican state senator Chris Lauzen and Tom Weisner, a three-term Aurora Mayor, 2012 President Barack Obama delegate and donor to former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
Weisner had been Aurora mayor for 11 years when he resigned this past fall, citing health concerns. Longtime alderman-at-large Robert O'Connor was Aurora's acting mayor.
Meanwhile, in the Algonquin Township race, Andrew Gasser, McHenry County Board member and chairman of the Algonquin Township Republican Party, defeated 24-year incumbent Highway Commissioner Robert Miller. During that race, Gasser, a resident of Fox River Grove, alleged nepotism in that department's hiring practices and urged the township's Republican Party to adopt a resolution condemning that practice. Miller’s wife and two sons-in-law are on the department's payroll, each with a salary of at least $90,000 a year.
The race between Gasser and Miller became especially ugly shortly before the election when a video turned up on YouTube that appeared to show Algonquin Township Highway Department employees shooting up a junked car on what also appeared to be township property. While the video had been shot in 2009, Gasser maintained it was proof was unfit for his office. For his part, Miller claimed the video's release by Gasser had been politically motivated and his description of what the video portrayed was inaccurate.
The video is no longer available on You Tube.
Gasser's upset victory over Miller meant he was uncontested in the April 4 consolidated election ballot.
Though both races officially were nonpartisan, candidate party affiliation is generally known and, at times, makes a difference, particularly in municipal races.
Both races also are example of how Illinois can change, Hughes said, "at the state rep level, at the state Senate level and in our statewide offices."