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updated: 4/5/2011 10:52 PM

Sayad returns to office in Des Plaines; newcomer Charewicz also wins

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  • Dick Sayad

    Dick Sayad

  • Michael "Mike" Charewicz

    Michael "Mike" Charewicz

  • Mark Walsten

    Mark Walsten

  • John Robinson

    John Robinson


Former two-term Des Plaines alderman Dick Sayad will return to represent the city's 4th Ward after defeating his longtime rival and one-term incumbent Alderman Jean Higgason and political newcomer Mark Pytlewicz.

In other contests, political newcomer Michael "Mike" Charewicz was easily elected in the 8th Ward and incumbents won easily in the 2nd and 6th Wards.

Sayad -- who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2009 -- and Higgason have a long history of political challenges.

Higgason, 54, was originally elected to the 4th Ward in 1995, when she defeated Sayad for the seat. She served until 1999, when Sayad, 67, beat her and served as alderman until 2007. Then he was ousted by voter-imposed term limits, and Higgason was elected.

In the latest race, unofficial vote totals with all six precincts reporting show Sayad garnered 583 votes, Higgason earned 488 votes, and Pytlewicz received 53 votes.

Sayad said the city needs to curb its spending further, hold the line on taxes and put an end to no-bid contracts.

Higgason, who is chairwoman of the city's finance and administration committee, said that the city has made great strides with its finance department and with reining in spending by downsizing government.

Charewicz, 55, an auto mechanic, beat fellow newcomer Pat Mauro.

Unofficial vote totals with all six precincts reporting show Charewicz won with 469 votes to Mauro's 208 votes.

Charewicz is a 30-year Des Plaines businessman and past president of the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry, while Mauro, 44, owns a sewer construction company in Des Plaines and is a member of the Des Plaines Economic Development Commission.

The 8th Ward seat was vacated by veteran Rosemary Argus, who could not seek re-election due to city term-limit regulations.

A third candidate, Austin Stanton, dropped out of the aldermanic race citing family health issues though his name still appeared on Tuesday's ballot. Stanton, who received three votes, threw his support to Charewicz.

During the campaign, Charewicz and Mauro agreed flooding, fiscal responsibility and economic development are major issues of concern to ward residents.

Charewicz has said the city has to take care of its sanitary sewers in the same way that it developed a master plan for improving storm sewers.

Charewicz said city officials need to do a better job of publicizing programs that help businesses, work on filling vacancies, make it easier for businesses to get permits, and improve communication with the community, residents and chamber of commerce.

In the 2nd Ward, incumbent Alderman John Robinson easily beat challenger Steve Antonoff, and in the 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten cruised to victory against newcomer Mario Palacios, according to unofficial results Tuesday.

Unofficial vote totals with all six precincts reporting show Robinson garnered 393 votes to Antonoff's 80 votes.

Robinson was initially appointed to the post after former alderman Marty Moylan was elected mayor in 2009. Robinson, 64, who owns a home improvement and remodeling company in Des Plaines, was running for a full 4-year term. He also serves on the Des Plaines Public Library board, and is a member of the Des Plaines and Mount Prospect chambers of commerce.

Robinson said he believes casino revenues should be used to reduce the city's debt, and to make infrastructure improvements, and fund projects that would alleviate flooding. The city still carries a $95 million debt load, hampering its ability to issue more debt for long-term capital improvement projects or equipment purchases, officials have said.

Antonoff, 44, a member of the Des Plaines Lions and Elks clubs, has never held an elected office, though he has run for alderman twice before.

Unofficial vote totals with all five precincts reporting show voters overwhelmingly endorsed Walsten who received 434 votes to Palacios' 65 votes. The vote total for write-in candidate Richard Hissong was not available.

The 6th Ward, on Des Plaines' south side, is home to the city's new casino under construction off Des Plaines River Road between Touhy and Devon avenues.

Walsten, 53, running for his second term and a home inspector by profession, said Des Plaines should use future casino revenue to improve the city's infrastructure, eliminate flooding, and reduce the city's debt load. Walsten said his main priorities are keep taxes down, eliminate flooding and bring new business and jobs to Des Plaines.

Palacios, a former member of the Des Plaines police and fire commission, is scheduled to appear for a hearing on charges he impersonated a government official on April 21 at the Skokie courthouse.

Palacios, 44, of the 1900 block of Illinois Street, was charged with false personation of a government official on Dec. 17, 2010, after police say he presented a sheriff's deputy at the Skokie courthouse with a Des Plaines fire and police commissioner badge.

The badge wasn't authentic -- it had been presented to Palacios by his wife as a memento when he retired from the commission in April 2010.

Palacios could face a penalty of less than a year in jail, if convicted.

Hissong, 82, who runs his own insurance business, was removed from the April 5 ballot in January for being one signature shy of 41, the required number for a valid candidate petition. He is running a write-in campaign for the aldermanic seat.