Urlacher says Mettawa residents urged him to run as write-in
Mayor Casey Urlacher attributed his victorious write-in campaign to the Mettawa residents who urged him to run after he received a pardon from former President Donald Trump.
Urlacher declared victory in the race Friday after the Lake County clerk's office reported he'd earned 151 write-in votes in the April 6 election. His opponent, former Mayor Jess Ray, was the only mayoral candidate on the ballot and received 105 votes, according to unofficial results.
Urlacher, currently serving his second term as mayor of Mettawa, a village of about 550 residents, was facing federal gambling charges last year and did not file nominating petitions with the village clerk in December, keeping his name off the April 6 ballot.
"Everyone knows why I missed the filing deadline," Urlacher said, referencing the charges against him. "On the night I had some good news from a previous administration, I had a bunch of phone calls all throughout the next day saying, 'Please do a write-in.'"
Urlacher was pardoned on Jan. 19 and soon after he launched a reelection bid as a write-in candidate.
Ray said he sent Urlacher a note congratulating him on his victory, assuming the lead holds up as any late-arriving mail-in ballots are counted. He said Urlacher didn't respond to his message.
"I think it is a foregone conclusion, but I'm not going to concede until the votes are counted," Ray said of the result.
County Clerk Robin O'Connor said the ballot count will be final at 5 p.m. April 20 and that she will sign documents on April 22 that will make the results official.
Urlacher said he was proud of his campaign and added that he received many complaints from his supporters about his opponent's political party, called the Back to the Future party.
Ray, who served as mayor from 2009 to 2013, said he believes Urlacher's supporters didn't like that Ray shared news reports detailing the federal charges against Urlacher.
Urlacher, the 41-year-old younger brother of former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2020 on charges he took part in an illegal sports gambling business. Urlacher was the only one of 10 people charged in connection with the gambling case to receive a pardon, made during Trump's final hours in office.
Prosecutors alleged Urlacher was recruited by ringleader Vincent DelGiudice of Orland Park to enlist new gamblers and collect or pay out cash. Urlacher faced one count of participating in the gambling conspiracy and one count of conducting an illegal gambling business. Each count would have been punishable by up to five years in a federal prison if he had been convicted.
Urlacher said he did not want to discuss the case.
"I want to continue to do great things," Urlacher said of his presumptive third term. "Keep preserving open space, giving back tax rebates to residents and keeping this a gem of a village."