By John Keilman Chicago Tribune

Two suburban mayors entangled in law enforcement investigations seemed to be headed to victory in Tuesday’s municipal elections, early returns showed.

In south suburban Crestwood, voters appeared to be backing Mayor Lou Presta’s attempt to win a third term despite facing federal charges that he accepted a $5,000 bribe to promote the red-light camera company SafeSpeed LLC, then lied about it to the FBI and IRS.

With all precincts reporting, his opponent, attorney John Toscas, garnered just 35% of the vote while Presta won 62%.

Lyons Mayor Chris Getty has also faced federal scrutiny, with agents raiding his private insurance office and village hall in 2019 as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation, but appeared to be cruising to reelection.

Getty, who said he has not committed any crime, has not been charged with wrongdoing, but his challenger, former trustee Richard Gatz Jr., said he had gotten into the race “because of all the corruption going on.”

A federal grand jury continues to investigate the case, and prosecutors have said in court that further charges are expected.

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Getty was leading Gatz 70% to 30% with all precincts reporting.

Meanwhile, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, brother of former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, waged a write-in campaign to keep his job leading the Lake County town of fewer than 600 residents after he was indicted in an illegal gambling case (then-President Donald Trump pardoned him in January).

Facing former Mayor Jess Ray, leader of the newly formed Back to the Future party, Urlacher was trailing Tuesday night in early results. The rest of Ray’s slate weren’t faring as well in trustee races, where independent candidates were out in front.

County clerks in the suburbs reported characteristically low turnout numbers for the consolidated election. DuPage County reported 15% turnout an hour before the polls closed, while it appeared Kane County would get a fraction of the 70% turnout it recorded in the 2020 presidential race.

In other races:

Oak Park was on the verge of electing a new village president after incumbent Anan Abu-Taleb decided not to seek a third term. Village Clerk Vicki Scaman was leading community activist and former park district worker Cate Readling, 57% to 43% with most of the vote recorded.

Affordability and racial equity were campaign issues in the suburb on Chicago’s western border.

Residents also appeared to be voting down a nonbinding referendum on whether to defund the west suburban village’s police department. Though the village saw an increase in crime last year, some said a portion of the police budget would be better spent on social services.

The “no” vote was leading 69% to 31%.

Orland Park saw a rematch of the 2017 mayoral race, with the two candidates locked in a close battle. First-term incumbent Keith Pekau had a slender lead over longtime former Mayor Dan McLaughlin with a few precincts left to report their results Tuesday night.

In Northbrook, trustee Kathryn Ciesla and former village president Eugene “Gene” Marks faced off to replace longtime President Sandy Frum. Cielsa appeared headed to a decisive victory, leading Marks 63% to 37% with most of the vote counted.

Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham was trailing challenger Ald. Ann Taylor as results trickled in from Lake County. With just a few thousand votes counted, Taylor was up 56% to 44%.

Several municipalities saw three-way races for the top job.

In Aurora, incumbent Mayor Richard Irvin appeared to have fended off two challengers, Ald. Judd Lofchie and John Laesch, a former East Aurora School Board member and Congressional candidate. With most precincts reporting, Irvin led with about 55% of the vote.

Blue Island saw incumbent Domingo Vargas trailing badly with most of the vote counted, winning only 13% of the vote as Ald. Fred Bilotto led the way with 51%. City clerk Randy Heuser was in second with 35%.

In Elmhurst, a trio of aldermen faced off to replace Steve Morley, who is leaving after two terms. With nearly all precincts reporting in the DuPage County city, Scott Levin had a substantial lead over Michael Bram and Mark Mulliner.

Longtime Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod appeared to be closing in on yet another term leading his northwest suburban town, leading his main opponent Mark Mueller 57% to 41% with most of the vote counted.

And while the vote count took a while to come in Flossmoor on Tuesday night, the village recorded a first in its nearly 100-year history by voting in its first woman to become mayor, replacing incumbent Mayor Paul Braun.

With all precincts reporting, Michelle Nelson, who has who worked in civil engineering, led Dr. Lakshi Emory, a physician who became a health care executive, by a 58% to 42% margin.

Original article: chicagotribune.com

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