Joe Cantore was the runaway victor Tuesday in the race for the Republican nomination for president of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.
With all 759 precincts reporting, unofficial results show Cantore with 52,546 votes and Mary Lou Wehli with 28,951.
Contact information ( * required )
"I am humbled by the support that I have been shown," Cantore said. "It was a long, tough campaign, and I want to commend my opponent for running a clean, ethical campaign that centered on issues and ways to make our forest preserve district the best it can be."
Cantore and Wehrli, who are both forest preserve commissioners, were seeking the position that's long been held by D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr., who is retiring at the end of November.
Cantore will advance to the November general election where he may be unopposed. No Democratic candidate has filed for the post.
DuPage Democrats have until June 2 to choose a candidate and gather enough signatures to get that person on the November ballot.
During the campaign, Cantore and Wehrli agreed the mission of the forest preserve should be supported.
Both candidates also agreed the district should remain an independent government agency from the county. The agency split from the county board in 2002.
Last year, one state lawmaker proposed legislation that would have dissolved the district and brought it back under county control, but the proposal never got off the ground.
Cantore, a 42-year-old Oak Brook resident, said the forest preserve has a completely different mission and vision than the county.
Merging the two, he said, would create conflicts that would "jeopardize the ability of a single board to properly represent the interests of DuPage County residents."
If he wins the general election, Cantore says he wants to find ways to encourage more residents to use DuPage's forest preserves, which he called a "fantastic attraction that people have right in their backyard."