Pulice ousts Johnson as Wood Dale mayor
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Annunziato "Nunzio" Pulice decided not to seek to re-electon as a Wood Dale alderman to make a run to become mayor.
His political gamble paid off on Tuesday night — but just barely.
With all 16 precincts reporting, Pulice bested three-term incumbent Kenneth Johnson by only 50 votes in a race that focused on water rates, flooding and a controversial underpass plan.
According to unofficial results, Pulice received 1,202 votes and Johnson tallied 1152 votes.
"The bottom line is half the city has faith in me, and the other half doesn't," Pulice said. "So I have my work cut out for me."
Meanwhile, newcomers — Frank Lazzara in Ward 1, Arthur Woods Jr. in Ward 2 and Michael Susmarski in Ward 4 — appeared to win the three contested seats on the city council. They defeated Peter Jakab, incumbent John Kadala and incumbent Sam Lewitan, respectively. Ward 3 Alderman Christine Winger ran unopposed.
When it comes to the close mayoral results, Johnson said he has no plans to request a recount.
"I congratulate Nunzio on his victory," he said. "I will do whatever I can to make it a smooth transition. I want him to be as successful as possible."
Once he becomes mayor next month, Pulice said his first priority is to do something about a series of annual water rate increases.
Officials said the latest rate hike, scheduled to take effect next month, is needed because the DuPage Water Commission, which provides Lake Michigan water to more than two dozen communities, is increasing its prices.
Still, Pulice said he doesn't want the city charging residents more for water, even if it means postponing a plan to spend about $335,000 to install ornamental lighting along Wood Dale Road.
In addition to water rates, Pulice said he wants to stop a proposed underpass from being built near the intersection of Irving Park and Wood Dale roads. He argues the location, which includes two railroad crossings, isn't as dangerous as it used to be.
"I think it's a waste of $20 million," he said.
In fact, Pulice said he believes a proposed bypass road that would link Wood Dale and Irving Park roads by running beneath the railroad tracks would cause flooding.
He said the city instead should make about $2 million safety improvements at the intersection. Those upgrades would include creating new turning lanes and synchronizing traffic signals with the railroad crossing signals.
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