Dominick surges to win third term as Cicero president
BY JON SEIDEL AND BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporters February 26, 2013 9:18PM
Cicero Town President Larry Dominick talks to reporters Tuesday night at Al's Restaurant after winning a third term. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: March 28, 2013 6:13AM
Cicero voters Tuesday ignored allegations of corruption, sexual harassment and nepotism in town hall and overwhelmingly re-elected Larry Dominick for a third term as the leader of the hardscrabble western suburb.
Dominick secured more than 60 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election, with 90 percent of the precincts reporting. He avoided a run-off with politically connected Juan Ochoa and secured another four years as the leader of the town made up of mostly Latinos.
At Al’s Restaurant, the Italian banquet hall where Dominick celebrated in 2005 when he was first elected town president, a large crowd fist-pumped Dominick and shouted his name.
“This summer, I’m gonna bury Al Capone and Betty [Loren-Maltese],” Dominick told reporters, referencing the infamous mobster and the former town president who are associated with town corruption.
The vote on Tuesday capped a campaign that easily lives up to Cicero’s long history of rough-and-tumble politics. Candidates for town president spent months slinging accusations toward one another of gang ties, racial slurs and old-fashioned government corruption.
U.S. Justice Department monitors even made a stop Tuesday in Cicero after the government agency publicly announced its civil rights division would be monitoring this week’s elections in Cook County, a source confirmed.
Dominick, though, struck a jubilant note Tuesday night. “The people of Cicero deserve the best and they’re going to get it,” Dominick told reporters. Later he added, “Start coming to Cicero — see all the good things that are happening.”
Dominick, a former streets and sanitation worker and cop, has worked for Cicero for more than three decades.
But Dominick and his administration have been mired in scandal.
The town president came into town hall with the promise to be a reformer, but since then he has been secretly recorded by the FBI, and he has been criticized for giving millions worth of town business to his pals, for appointing friends and family to town posts and has been accused multiple times of sexual harassment. He’s also been accused of using racist slurs — a charge he and his campaign deny — in the town where the population is 87 percent Latino.
“I guess the voters have spoken, and I guess they feel they want the current administration still in there,” said Joe Pontarelli, who ran against Dominick, his former boss. “With the things going on . . . you kind of wonder.”
Challenger Ochoa, who was backed by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), was forced to make denials of his own — disputing the allegations of the Dominick campaign to link him and his campaign to the Latin Kings street gang. Ochoa, the former head of McPier and of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was expected to win support of the Latino community.
In remarks Tuesday night, he told supporters not to be discouraged — it was not easy to take on an “organization that has been doing this for decades.”
“View this as something that requires courage, that requires strength,” he said as supporters chanted his name. “This is not the end.”