Voters will be asked to sort through large numbers of candidates this spring in races for village boards and city councils in many DuPage County communities, including Bensenville, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Winfield.
The filing period closed Wednesday for the April 9 municipal, park, library and school board elections and the large fields of candidates in those towns almost guarantee hotly contested races.
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Some feature slates of hopefuls seeking a changing of the guard, while others pit as many as eight candidates in a fight for three seats.
In Bensenville, Village President Frank Soto says the town has turned around under his watch. But Soto's former political ally, Trustee Oronzo Peconio, disagrees.
Peconio has assembled a new party, "Bensenville First," with the goal of winning every elected municipal post -- including Soto's seat -- during the April election.
"The village is going in the wrong direction," said Peconio, who is challenging Soto for the village president seat along with Richard "Rich" Johnson.
While Soto says he has worked to reinvent Bensenville's image and improve its finances, Peconio says there hasn't been enough progress, especially when it comes to economic development.
"We need jobs in Bensenville," he said, adding his slate is comprised of "business-minded people."
Peconio's slate includes Rosa Carmona for village clerk and trustee candidates John Tornabene, Frank DeSimone and Rayleen Panicola.
Soto is running as a member of the "Changed Bensenville Party" with incumbent trustees Martin O'Connell, Henry Wesseler and Susan Janowiak, who isn't seeking re-election as clerk to make a bid for a trustee post. The slate's clerk candidate is Ilsa Rivera-Trujillo.
A slate of candidates also is lining up in Glendale Heights in an attempt to oust several longtime incumbents.
John DeBartolo, a 50-year resident, has organized a four-person group and installed lawn signs that say "Glendale Heights Time for a Change."
DeBartolo is running for trustee in District 2 against Sharon Fonte. His slate includes former Trustee Ed Pope, who is challenging 14-year incumbent Village President Linda Jackson; Jenny Matrasko against incumbent Chester Pojack for District 5 trustee; and Kim Darlin against incumbent Village Clerk Marie Schmidt.
Other challengers not part of a slate include former Queen Bee Elementary District 16 board member Marilyn Liwanag, who is running for village president; Hana Echevarria for District 5 trustee, and Patricia Rambo for village clerk.
DeBartolo says he's suggested revamping Glendale Heights Fest and starting a community garden -- but he's met resistance from village leaders.
"I've seen this town go from dirt roads and cornfields to what we have now, and I don't like what I see," he said. "(The board) doesn't want to go forward. Whatever worked 20 years ago for them -- they keep doing what they want to do."
Meanwhile, the incumbents have set up a website, paid for through Jackson's campaign committee, that encourages residents to "vote for people you know and trust."
Elsewhere, trustee races are contested in two of three Lombard districts up for election, with three candidates seeking seats in Districts 1 and 3, while Trustee Bill Ware is unopposed in his bid for re-election in District 6.
Moon Khan, one of three candidates for the open village president seat, said he supports Muzammil Saeed in the District 3 race against incumbent Zachary Wilson and challenger Reid Foltyniewicz; and clerk candidate Deanne Theodore against Sharon Kuderna for the seat to be vacated by Brigitte O'Brien.
The District 1 race includes incumbent Greg Gron, the longest-serving among current Lombard trustees; and challengers Dan Whittington, former president of Lombard Town Centre; and Deborah Messineo-Jones, who also has filed for a spot on the Lombard park board.
In Roselle, six candidates are seeking three trustee seats. Incumbents Kory Atkinson, Andy Maglio and Terrence Wittman are defending their spots against Patrick Devitt, who has served four years on Roselle Elementary District 12's school board and the Roselle Library board; Robert Roddy and Carrie Dahlstrom.
An eight-way race for three trustee seats may be brewing in Villa Park, depending on the decision of Trustee Deborah Bullwinkel, who said she has filed nominating petitions to run for both trustee and for village president.
"I decided to exercise my right to file for both trustee and president," Bullwinkel said Thursday, citing state statute. "I'm definitely going to run for sure. I just decided to exercise this right."
Bullwinkel has until Thursday to choose which position she will seek and withdraw from the other race.
Seven other candidates have filed for three 4-year trustee terms. Incumbents John Davis and Robert Taglia are seeking to keep their seats, and challengers Tony Gurdak, Rodney Pate, Richard Biagioli, Gregory Haffler and Robert "Bob" Wagner also are running.
An ongoing debate about how Winfield should raise much-needed revenue has prompted six candidates to vie for three seats on the village board. Incumbents Jay Olson and Jack Bajor will be joined on the ballot by newcomers Thomas M. Blackburn, James C. McCurdy, Phillip Mustes and Charles Jacques.
Olson said he's seeking a second term to continue work on key issues including a proposal to rezone parts of Roosevelt Road for redevelopment. He acknowledges commercializing Roosevelt is an issue that will divide the candidates in the trustee race.
"There's no doubt there are two camps," Olson said. "I think there is a group that really doesn't want much change. And there is another group that sees change as something that would benefit the village as a whole."