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CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – Fiery Republican Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica has lost in his re-election bid for the 16th District seat on the County Board.
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Democrat Jeffrey Tobolski took nearly 54 percent of the vote in the west suburban district, with 200 of 230 precincts reporting.
“I am pleased that we were able to accomplish everything we did on the eight years I spent on the County Board. And finally, every election is a referendum on the incumbent, and apparently the voters of the western suburbs are ready for a change, and I respect the decision of the voters,” Peraica said Tuesday night.
Tobolski is the village president of the tiny western suburb of McCook.
“What I get out of this is the privilege of representing – and I use the term representing for the first time – in a long time the people of the 16th District of Cook County,” he said.
The headlines in the race have been ugly in the week leading up to the election. Peraica was arrested over the weekend and charged with criminal damage to property after police said he went on a vandalism spree in two west suburban town.
Police alleged Peraica used a hook device to tear down Tobolski’s campaign signs.
Peraica denied the charges, and accused Tobolski of setting him up.
“He controls the police chief, he controls the police department. And they abuse their police authority to trail somebody, follow us,” Peraica said after the arrest last weekend. He later filed a lawsuit over the incident.
In his eight years on the Cook County Board, Peraica gained a reputation passionate speeches and flamboyant events.
Along with two commissioners from the other side of the aisle – Democrats Mike Quigley and Forrest Claypool – Peraica led a charge against tax hikes and alleged patronage hiring by Board President Todd Stroger and before that, his father and predecessor John Stroger.
Protesting what he called waste and bloat in county government, Peraica also gained notoriety for his dramatic flair.
In 2005, when the senior Stroger and several county commissioners went on a taxpayer-supported trip to a National Association of Counties convention in Hawaii, Peraica protested by holding a “luau” in the Thompson Center Plaza. His staff mocked the trip wearing leis and grass skirts as they handed out tropical-flavored soft drinks and protested the “junket.”
The following year, Peraica was the Republican nominee for board president against John Stroger. But he instead ended up running against Todd Stroger, when the elder Stroger was incapacitated by a stroke and had to be replaced on the ballot.
Todd Stroger ultimately won. But when the polling numbers didn’t change for several hours on Election Day 2006, Peraica and his supporters led a 2 a.m. march to the Cook County Administration Building, accusing opponents of trying to “steal (the election) away from us.”
More recently, Peraica has gained attention for tweeting real-time accounts of County Board meetings, prompting an unsuccessful move to ban the use of Twitter in the boardroom during meetings.
Tobolski served as a trustee for the McCook Park District, then as its president. He was also a McCook village trustee, before being elected interim mayor in 2007 and to a full term in 2009.