CICERO, Ill. (CBS) – Cicero Town President Larry Dominick easily won his bid for re-election Tuesday in a contentious three-way contest marked by accusations of corruption, voter intimidation and ballot-fixing.
The onetime Cicero police officer, who garnered 60 percent of the vote and 5,548 votes, secured a third four-year term to lead the blue-collar western suburb, the Cook County Clerk’s Office reported late Tuesday, with 32 of 33 precincts reporting.
Significantly trailing Dominick was opponent Juan Ochoa, who had 31 percent of the vote (2,870 votes), and Joseph Pontarelli, 9 percent (823 votes).
The contest was a bitter one. Ochoa, a former state official, claimed Dominick was trying to rig the election using public resources for his campaign. Dominick countered Ochoa’s campaign was using gang members to reach voters, which his opponent denied.
“Ask the people of Cicero — I think they just showed you how much integrity I got,” Dominick, shrugging off the negativity, told reporters and cheering supporters Tuesday night.
“Look back from 2005 to now. There’s not one person that lives in this town that can’t say Cicero’s better,” he added. “We got parks, we got things for the kids. We take care of seniors, we take care of people with disability.”
Because Dominick won more than 50 percent of the vote, he wins the race and avoids an April runoff.
Voter turnout in Cicero was 26 percent, a drop from the 2009 level of38 percent, county election officials said.
The accusations flying between the Dominick and Ochoa campaigns prompted Cook County Clerk David Orr to send extra election attorneys into the town to help monitor elections this week. His high-profile involvement drew jeers from Dominick ally Martin Sandoval.
The state legislator sent a letter to the state’s attorney’s office asking prosecutor Anita Alvarez to ask Orr to extract himself from the Cicero election. Sandoval said Orr was stumping for Ochoa and got personally involved Tuesday morning when he forced a Dominick poll watcher to leave The Woodbine School polling place.
“I will file a notice of hearing, and I’m also possibly going to file legislation to do away with this office,” Sandoval said.
Orr disagreed he had a vested interest in the race beyond making sure everything was above-board.
“Both campaigns have criticized us publicly for doing too much or too little. The greatest responsibility of the County Clerk is conducting fair elections and I’ve devoted more than two decades to the task. I certainly do not have a horse in this race. My office would be derelict in its duties if we did nothing simply because we feared criticism,” Orr said in a written statement.
Cicero has long been trying to shake off a negative reputation. Its former town president, Betty Loren-Maltese, served seven years in federal prison after she was convicted of insurance fraud that bilked taxpayers.