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updated: 9/9/2012 8:53 PM

Rosemont's Stephens to run for reelection in April

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  • Bradley Stephens

      Bradley Stephens

 
 

For decades, Rosemont's future has been tied to the Stephens family name.

The reins of the town likely will remain in the family's hands if there are no challengers to Mayor Bradley Stephens' re-election bid in April.

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Stephens said this week he will be seeking his second term in office, along with two incumbent trustees and a newcomer trustee candidate who also has a long history with the village.

Incumbent village trustees Ralph DiMatteo and Roger Minale will be seeking four more years on the board, while longtime trustee Sharon Pappas is ceding her board seat to her husband Harry Pappas, who is Rosemont's highest paid employee. Pappas will be retiring in February as the Allstate Arena's general manager, for which he was paid nearly $230,000 in 2010, records show.

Village Clerk Debbie Drehobl also will be seeking re-election, and they all will be running on the Rosemont Voters League slate, Stephens said.

In April 2009, Stephens overwhelmingly defeated challenger Joseph Watrach, a political unknown who owned a valet parking business, in the town's first contested mayoral election after Stephens took over in 2007 from his dad, who founded the town in 1956.

Since then, Stephens has overseen the expansion of Rosemont's entertainment empire with development of the MB Financial Park At Rosemont, The Ballpark at Rosemont -- home of the Chicago Bandits professional fastpitch softball team, the opening of the Balmoral Avenue exit ramp off the northbound Tri-State Tollway, and construction of an upscale, 530-000-square-foot outlet mall south of Balmoral Avenue, set to open in August 2013.

"Obviously, the development throughout the community over the last four years is I guess the main accomplishment here," said Stephens, who also serves as the Leyden Township supervisor. The Park At Rosemont "was a very big development for the village and for the convention business."

Stephens touted his lobbying efforts that secured Rosemont roughly $5 million yearly from the state as part of a $20 million bailout of McCormick Place and Navy Pier to attract more convention business to the Chicago area.

"There was some back and forth and the legislature agreed in the end (that) Rosemont is a worldwide convention city," Stephens said.

Stephens had been a village trustee for 18 years when he was appointed to fill the chair left vacant by the death of his father and Rosemont's only other mayor, Donald E. Stephens, in April 2007.

Donald Stephens became Rosemont's first mayor at age 27 in 1956, the year the town was incorporated. He was the region's longest-serving mayor, and transformed the town from a patch of garbage dumps and mob hangouts into a convention and entertainment capital.

Today, the Stephens family is still involved in every aspect of the 2-square-mile town from public works to police protection, and is one of the most politically connected families in the Chicago suburbs.

During the 2009 election campaign, Stephens said he didn't see any problem with no-bid contracts nor does he have an issue with relatives working in village government or profiting from village business.

The 10 members of the Stephens family on the village's payroll received almost $1 million in compensation in 2010, according to village financial records.

Stephens himself made a salary of $125,000. The mayor's brother, Donald Stephens II, the village's police superintendent, received $144,885. The police superintendent's son, Donald Stephens III, Rosemont's first deputy police superintendent, made $140,613. The highest earning member of the Stephens clan is the patriarch's grandson Christopher, who received $193,462 to oversee the village's convention center, which is named after his grandfather.

The town of little more than 4,300 residents has an operational budget of nearly $150 million.

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