"This race isn't about age," said 26-year-old Matt Bogusz, who voters overwhelmingly elected Tuesday to lead Des Plaines, making him the youngest mayor in the Northwest suburbs.
"It was about the politics of the past and the progress that people want to make," he added.
Contact information ( * required )
Unofficial results show Bogusz, alderman of the city's 3rd Ward, snatched the city's top elected post with a commanding 1,700-vote lead over former Des Plaines mayor Tony Arredia, who is 75.
With 43 of 44 precincts reporting, Bogusz received 4,325 votes, Arredia garnered 2,557 votes, and 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten, 55, received 1,077 votes.
"We are celebrating," Bogusz said in a telephone interview from the Via Roma restaurant in Des Plaines.
Bogusz, who is completing his first term as 3rd Ward alderman, ran on a platform of delivering healthy municipal finances, government that performs predictably, and ethics reform.
"Voters want to move forward and tonight's result is proof of it," Bogusz said. "There are many examples of what not to do and we need to chart a new course showing people that government can be ethical. We restored some fiscal sanity to city hall and I think people see the difference and responded quite well. If we can't get our finances right, nothing else matters."
Arredia, who was attempting to reclaim the seat he left in April 2009 due to voter-imposed limits on having more than two consecutive terms, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. Walsten, who is in the middle of his second aldermanic term, also could not be reached.
Bogusz said campaign volunteers knocked on more than 3,000 doors over this past weekend alone. And he ran an unprecedented social media campaign, in addition to using conventional methods to reach voters, such as phone calls, mailers and email.
"It was hard work and teamwork that got us over the finish line," Bogusz said. "We wanted to earn this. We did so by effectively communicating our message on a regular basis."
Bogusz joked the hardest part of the campaign was finishing it and managing to stay engaged to his college sweetheart, Kate, 27, a management consultant. The two are getting married in August.
The part-time mayor's job comes with a yearly salary of $9,000.
In the 1st Ward, with all nine precincts reporting, incumbent Alderwoman Patricia Haugeberg, 63, won a second term on the city council having collected 453 votes, while newcomer candidate Robert Giurato garnered 319 votes, and Des Plaines Public Library board trustee Steven Mokry received 120 votes.
In the 3rd Ward race where there is no incumbent, with five of six precincts reporting, newcomer candidate Denise Rodd held a narrow lead with 491 votes over former 1st Ward alderwoman Patricia Beauvais' 479 votes.
Rodd, 44, is an online editor for the American Osteopathic Association. Beauvais, 55, director of business and program development for Regency Rehab Center in Niles, served 16 years as alderman before leaving in 2009 due to voter-imposed limits on consecutive terms.
In the 5th Ward, with all four precincts counted, incumbent Alderman Jim Brookman looked likely to win re-election with 658 votes and no challenger other than Gregory Sarlo, who ran as a write-in candidate after being thrown off the ballot. It was unclear Tuesday night how many votes Sarlo had garnered.
In the 7th Ward, with all seven precincts reporting, voters appear to have elected Joanna Sojka with 456 votes to John Malloy's 328 votes. Sojka is a business and finance administrator at a Chicago university.
Former Des Plaines police chief Joseph Kozenczak, 69, ran as a write-in candidate. It was unclear how many write-in votes Kozenczak had garnered.