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Cicero incumbent won handily as rivals failed to get message out

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick talks medielectinight Al's Restaurant Tuesday February 26 2013. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick talks to the media on election night at Al's Restaurant on Tuesday, February 26, 2013. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 1, 2013 11:50AM

Rarely does a lieutenant for newly re-elected Cicero Town President Larry Dominick find common ground with one of Dominick’s biggest critics, Betty Loren-Maltese.

But the day after Dominick’s decisive election win for a third term as leader of the western suburb, Loren-Maltese and Dominick spokesman Ray Hanania had the same diagnosis for the losing campaigns of Juan Ochoa and Joe Pontarelli: Voters didn’t hear a message.

“I’m disappointed the voters did not stand up,” said Loren-Maltese, a former Cicero town president convicted a decade ago for her part in a corruption scheme. “I’m also disappointed in the campaigns that they did not get their message out.”

Hanania said Cicero is in better shape than when Dominick took office in 2005. He said voters there see what Dominick is trying to do with the town, and he said that won out over ethnic politics and mudslinging about political corruption.

“Larry connected with everybody,” Hanania said.

Ochoa said he visited with hundreds of voters to talk economic development, housing foreclosures and government transparency. Pontarelli didn’t return calls.

“I spent as much time as one can spend going door-to-door and spending one-on-one time with voters,” Ochoa said. “I think it comes down to resources.”

Dominick’s campaign spent $206,245 between October and December, the most recent quarter available. Ochoa spent $31,609 during that same period, and Pontarelli spent $9,578.

The result was the incumbent winning 60 percent of the vote, easily avoiding a runoff with Ochoa, his nearest competitor. Turnout was lower on this year’s snowy Election Day than four years ago, with 32.7 percent of registered voters showing up this year to the polls, according to Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office.

Ochoa acknowledged the snow played a role in his loss, but he also said Dominick’s base is “fully committed.” And he pointed Tuesday night to alleged Dominick scare tactics.

“I think what hurt us more was the intimidation tactics that were used by uniformed employees of the town,” Ochoa said Tuesday night.

Orr has made similar allegations in a scathing letter to the Dominick camp. But Hanania said the real intimidation came from Ochoa’s team — a reference to alleged gang ties that Ochoa denies.

Regardless, neither Ochoa nor Pontarelli seemed to lay a glove on Dominick at the polls. And no matter the reason, the incumbent’s knock-out win with the voters left some critics stunned.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Loren-Maltese said. “What has to happen to wake them up?”

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