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posted: 4/6/2012 6:41 PM

Cook GOP chair won't seek re-election, backs Palatine councilman

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  • Aaron Del Mar

    Aaron Del Mar

  • Ruth O'Connell

    Ruth O'Connell

and Projects Writer

Just eight months into his role, Cook County GOP Chairman Sig Vaznelis has announced he won't seek another term and will instead back a Palatine councilman who pledges to infuse the problem-fraught organization with energy and diversity.

Rumors of his decision began circulating after the March 20 primary, which highlighted rifts between factions of the organization.

Vaznelis, of Lemont, says the November general election coincides with his "busy season" as a civil engineer.

"I felt it best that someone a little younger, more energetic step up," he said.

Aaron Del Mar, Palatine Township committeeman and deputy chairman under Vaznelis, said the opening was described to him by Vaznelis as a "good opportunity to pass the torch."

A political turf war between Republicans from the north end of Cook County and those from the south may have helped drive the race for Cook County Board of review commissioner between Wheeling Resident Dan Patlak and south suburban resident Sean Morrison, a race Patlak ultimately won.

While Cook County Board Member Liz Gorman, of Orland Park, took to the airwaves and to robocalls to plug Morrison, New Trier Township Committeeman Bill Cadigan and other North suburban Cook County GOP committeemen fiercely supported Patlak. Cadigan was recently removed from his post by Vaznelis, who is aligned with Gorman.

Del Mar, 33, says he's interested in modernizing and uniting the party. He noted that if elected, he would be the "first minority ever" to lead the organization. Del Mar is of Filipino descent.

Del Mar says he has support from committeemen across the north and south suburbs -- though noticeably absent from that list is his neighbor to the east, Committeeman Ruth O'Connell of Arlington Heights -- who was defeated by Vaznelis in last September's election for chair.

Committeemen from Chicago and the South suburbs largely backed Vaznelis then, and many from Northwest suburban townships, with the exception of Del Mar, supported O'Connell.

O'Connell now says she's mulling another run.

"I would consider it," she said. "It just depends on how many people would support my candidacy."

Per state law, committeemen will elect a new chair at the county convention at 7 p.m. April 18 at the Parthenon Restaurant in Chicago.

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