VILLA PARK, Ill. (STMW) – The race for Villa Park village president ended in a landslide, not a photo finish.
Trustee Deborah Bullwinkel rolled to an overwhelming win in the west suburb against controversial former police chief John Heidelmeier, whose campaign collapsed after embarrassing pictures of him appeared on an Internet sex-chat site.
With all 31 precincts reporting, Bullwinkel grabbed 76 percent of the vote to easily defeat Heidelmeier, who finished with 24 percent.
“The support I’ve had from this community has been unreal,” she said of her strong showing. “It shows the people come and let you know how they feel.”
Heidelmeier had served as Villa Park police chief for about two years before abruptly resigning last year—though the reasons for his departure weren’t publicly disclosed.
He later jumped into the race for village president against Bullwinkel, a first-term trustee.
His campaign was rocked last month when a pair of suggestive photographs — which Heidelmeier didn’t dispute were of him — appeared on an adult website promising “Your Most Diverse Phone Sex Experience.”
He apologized in a statement but insisted on remaining in the race, saying he did “nothing unlawful or anything that diminishes my ability to serve the people of Villa Park.”
Bullwinkel on Tuesday wouldn’t comment on whether the Internet photos of her opponent boosted her support.
“It was an unfortunate situation. I feel for his family and for John,” she said.
In Maywood, Mayor Henderson Yarbrough Sr. appeared headed for defeat in his run for a third term, thanks to a rally by Trustee Edwenna Perkins. With 16 of 17 precincts tallied, Perkins had about 38 percent of the vote, while Yarbrough trailed with 33 percent. Trustee Gilberto “Gil” Guzman had 19 percent, followed by Mary “May” Larry and Nicole Gooden, each with 5 percent.
In Bensenville, Village President Frank Soto defeated two challengers — including one with ties to former longtime leader John Geils — in his quest for a second term leading the suburb that borders O’Hare Airport.
Soto, an attorney, defeated Trustee Oronzo Peconio, who ran with him in 2009, and veteran park board member Rich Johnson. With all 14 precincts reporting, Soto tallied 47 percent of the vote, followed by Peconio with 31 percent and Johnson with 22 percent. Soto won his first term in 2009 when he defeated Geils, who had led the village for 24 years.
Johnson’s wife, Patti, had served on the village board when Geils was village president.
In St. Charles, veteran Ald. Ray Rogina cruised to election as mayor over three other candidates.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)