Pardoned by Trump, Urlacher launches write-in campaign for reelection as Mettawa mayor

Pardon from Trump cleared up Mettawa mayor's legal trouble

Recently pardoned in a federal gambling case by former President Donald Trump, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher now is seeking reelection as a write-in candidate.

Urlacher didn't file nominating petitions with the village clerk in December, keeping his name off the April 6 ballot and seemingly giving up on a third term as Mettawa's top elected official.

But Trump on Jan. 19, as one of his final actions in office, granted Urlacher a full pardon from any convictions stemming from a February 2020 indictment linking him to an illegal sports gambling operation.

About a week later, on Jan. 28, Urlacher filed a declaration of intent with the Lake County clerk's office to run as a write-in candidate.

In an email Monday, Urlacher, 41, said he was humbled that residents encouraged him to run for reelection and continue the progress made during his eight years in office.

"Residents I am speaking to want to keep Mettawa as the special hidden gem of Lake County that it is today," he said.

"This is a small local race, (but) in the end, I believe voters care that they have a mayor who shares their values and will work for them."

Urlacher didn't directly address the pardon Monday.

"Residents here know me, they know where I live, they have all my contact information and know that I am always available to them," he said.

Urlacher, the younger brother of Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, was charged with one count of participating in a gambling conspiracy and one count of conducting an illegal gambling business. Each count carried a potential five-year sentence upon a conviction.

He will be campaigning against former Mayor Jess Ray, who served from 2009 to 2013. Ray is running with three trustee candidates as the Back to the Future Party.

In announcing his candidacy last October, Ray said he and running mates promise to "go back" to increased transparency of board actions and decisions, protection of property rights, and sound financial management.

Ray said he is puzzled by Urlacher's decision to re-enter the picture.

"I don't understand why he'd want to do it," Ray said Monday.

"He's a competitive animal and he loves the limelight," he added.

Urlacher chose to remain in office last year after the indictments against him and nine co-defendants were made public.

"I fully believe that I will be exonerated of all of the charges," he said at the time, adding that he would "continue to faithfully serve" and continue on "the path of progress."

Ray, a retired marketing executive, touts several accomplishments during his tenure as mayor, as well as "forward-thinking strategies" to better the village. He also has been critical of proposed changes to the zoning code.

"Where he'll (Urlacher) take the village isn't consistent with where our slate" is aiming, Ray said.

He said an Urlacher write-in victory would be "a defeat for power, not for the good of the residents."

Urlacher said the tax base has grown in his tenure and he also has run "an extremely cost-efficient and economical administration" to increase tax rebates provided to residents.

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Jess Ray
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