By Bob Bong
Four races in Palos Heights feature incumbents being challenged for city treasurer and alderman in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wards.
In the treasurer’s race, incumbent Jim Daemicke is running for re-election after being elected four years ago. He is being challenged by George Popelka.
“The City of Palos Heights, over the past 20 years, has built a strong financial foundation for the future,” said Daemicke. “Our strong cash reserves serve many purposes: it allows us to apply for grants to improve city infrastructure, it protects us when unforeseen circumstances like COVID-19 impact our city, and most importantly it provides us flexibility for the future obligations of the City, both known and unknown.
“In my role as City Treasurer, my focus has been to maintain strong cash reserves, assist with making safe investment decisions, always maintain transparency with residents, and above all, ensure financially responsible use of taxpayer dollars. It has been an honor to serve the City the past four years. We have a seasoned, experienced group of individuals protecting the finances of the City, and we must continue to safeguard our assets for the future.
“I was born and raised in Palos Heights. After finishing up my CPA, I returned home, with my wife Christine to raise my family here. I have three children that I’m happy to say attend Palos District 118 schools, which I believe is one of the finest districts in the area. I also volunteer in the community, serving as the Treasurer of Palos AYSO soccer and the Palos Chamber of Commerce.
“My family also owns a tax and accounting practice in Palos Heights. I work with many of the local businesses on a day-to-day basis, serving as both a tax preparer and an advisor.”
“I am running so that our city can have a better government that is transparent, efficient and genuinely responsive to the needs of our community,” said Popelka. “As city treasurer, I shall be a vigilant watchdog.
“As a former government official, I have seen first-hand examples of governments that are transparent, efficient and return genuine value to its residents in exchange for the tax dollars collected from the community.
“My extensive experience in the nonprofit industry, provides me with a unique skill set to ensure that city funds are used wisely on behalf of the electorate. I pledge to provide the citizens and taxpayers of Palos Heights with timely and pertinent information regarding the operations of the city including making the expenditures of city funds available for public viewing through an interactive search function.”
The 1st Ward race is a repeat of the 2017 election with two-term incumbent Donald Bylut being challenged by Daniel McCarthy III and William Moran. Bylut garnered 340 votes to 164 for McCarthy and 103 for Moran in the earlier election.
In the 2nd Ward, incumbent Jack Clifford is squaring off with George Castor Jr.
“The act of voting is an expression of who I am,” said Clifford. “You pay taxes, but do you know how that money is being used? Most people don’t. Voting is your chance to choose how your tax dollars are spent – such as recreational needs, infrastructure systems, chipper and snow removal, and repairs and rebuilding streets on yearly basis.
“You’ll get a lot of impressions and still feel that you get very little real information about the candidates and their views on the issues, I have given you that information over the past weeks of what I’ll continue to do and not do, I will continue to be available and accessible, I will continue to promote and improve all services that will make Palos Heights the place to raise a family.”
Castor has said if elected he will listen to and represent the residents of the ward, keep green space in the community, especially Lake Katherine, bring in new businesses and support existing businesses, and support the police and fire departments to keep our community safe.
In the 3rd Ward, incumbent Ald. Dolores Kramarski is facing Heather Mulligan Begley.
Kramarski was first appointed to the City Council in 1999. She has been a volunteer at Lake Katherine for 13 years and with the Classic Car Show for five years.
She has lived in Palos Heights since 1980.
She is proud of her accomplishments as chairman of the Roads and Construction Committee. She said nearly $20 million worth of projects throughout the city have been completed and include the current reconstruction of 123rd Street. The reconstruction of 76th Avenue from Route 83 to 135th Street was done with funding from the Southwest Conference of Mayors. We reconstructed 127th Street southwest of McCarthy Road with a grant from former state Sen. Maggie Crotty. With the assistance of former Sen. Patrick O’Malley, we used a state grant to complete new turning lanes into Oak Hills, Trinity Christian College and Lake Katherine.
“When I became a member of the City Council, we were operating in the red. Through fiscal responsibility, attracting businesses, securing grants for various projects and a City Council working together we have a strong balance sheet.
“If re-elected, my goal is to work with staff to develop the vacancies in the Business District to enhance the desirability of Palos Heights and to continue to be responsive to the needs of the residents.”
“An alderman serves as the voice of the community and is charged with taking action to better serve the needs of the community,” said Begley. “I have thrown my hat in the ring because I believe I have the skills necessary to be an excellent alderman for Palos Heights.
“As a mom, I have the experience of raising my family in Palos Heights. Since the time my kids were very young, I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful families and friends here. I have attended the soccer games and ballet recitals. I have walked hundreds of laps at Lake Katherine looking at the geese and swans. Palos Heights is an integral part of my life.
“As an attorney, I am skilled at research, negotiation, reviewing documents, and applying the law. If elected, I will use my legal skills to improve dialogue, evaluate contracts, explore grants, and ways to develop more business.
“We all love Palos Heights’s charm, small shops, parks and park district, Lake Katherine, and kind neighbors. However, it will not surprise anyone that our residents discuss the topic of their desire for more restaurants or more grocery shopping in town.
“My impression having lived here for over 13 years is that our residents want more. They want more chances to interact with the community and rely on their ‘village,’ they want activities for teens, resources for seniors, and they want to be proud of the town we all call home.
“2020 changed us. Simply put, change is inevitable. Our homes became home offices and the kitchen table became the classroom. Schools reopened safely. In our city, we were carrying out from restaurants and shopping locally. We took fewer trips to downtown Chicago. The circumstances of 2020 forced us to look at our own surroundings, our values, and to spend more time within Palos Heights. Moving forward, after such an introspective period, we should ask ourselves what we love about our community and where we have room for growth.”
In Palos Township, incumbent Clerk Jane Nolan of the Palos Township Independent Party is being challenged by independent Tammy Georgiou.
Nolan is a former teacher at School District 127.5 who was first elected clerk in 2005. She is a life member of the NEA and IEA.
She is one of four clerks in Illinois who is a recipient of Voluntary Township Clerk Certification Program. She is former president, Township of Cook County Clerk’s Division. She is secretary, Executive Board, Townships of Cook County.
She is a member of Lions Club and American Association of University Women.
“I have been a resident of Palos Township for over 20 years,” said Georgiou. “I raised my family and made a home in the township because of the community’s family-friendly environment and vibrant diversity.
“As clerk of Palos Township, I will use my professional background and experience of 18 years in quality control and compliance to introduce fresh, innovative strategies that will improve the township’s operations with cost effective solutions.
“I have a strong background in community organizing and outreach that crosses over many different communities in the southwest suburbs. My community service experience includes partnering with national healthcare organizations to contribute to medical advocacy curriculum development at Moraine Valley Community College. As well as, founding a civic engagement organization specifically for Palos and Orland township residents. I will bring a renewed sense of leadership to the position of clerk.”
Incumbent Assessor Robert Maloney is running as a member of the Independent Party, but he also is Palos Township Democratic Committeeman. He is being challenged by Trustee Sharon Brannigan, who is running as a Republican.
Brannigan has been at the center of protests over comments she made on social media about Middle Eastern residents of Palos Township.
Incumbent Gene Adams is being challenged by independent candidate Michael McHugh, a former Hickory Hills alderman, for township highway commissioner.
Running for trustee are incumbents Brent Woods, Richard Riley, Pamela Jeanes, Independent Party newcomer Tasneem Abuzir, and independent candidate Mervate Mohammad, a lawyer.
“I serve my community with purpose,” Mohammad said. “As such, I want to serve Palos Township residents by being your voice on the Palos Township Board as a trustee. As an experienced professional advocate, I will be able to represent the people of Palos Township and your concerns to the board and with my best efforts move forward with positive change.”