Patrick Maher, the son of Village Clerk David Maher, withdrew his name from the April 5, 2011 election, citing family concerns and issues. Maher was pushed in to a challenge of Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman last year, winning the Democratic Primary but losing in a landslide to Gorman in the November 2010 general election.
Maher had the financial backing of many contributors to the Village of Orland Park and received thousands from Mayor Dan McLaughlin and newly elected Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, almost as if Preckwinkle was firing a declaration of war against Gorman who has risen to become one of the county board's most respected members.
Maher was elected in 2003 as president of the Orland Fire Protection Board, one of the largest and most expensive in the nation, second highest budget in Illinois, more than 28 million. He was elected president in 2006. He has been under intense pressure to run for higher office as he is the first cousin of former Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, the 19th Ward scion. Orland Park has been a target of the 19th Ward politicians for years and at election time they often inundate polls with 19th ward precinct workers
Although Maher is a decent person, his past exploded in the middle of his race for the Cook County board when it was discovered that Maher had been charged with brutally beating another student when he was in college. Maher was charged in 1991 with felony aggravated battery and the case went to trial. Although the first trial ended in a hung jury, Maher pled guilty to misdemeanor battery.
There were too many issues involved not only in the case but in the way the case was addressed by Maher himself. Several media sources claimed he had lied on candidate response forms saying that he had never been charged with a crime. And, his birth date on some records had been changed by one day. Today, the court system doesn't use social security numbers to index court records. Cases are often filed by birth dates. Changing the birth date, or an error, would result in records not being found. (Read and watch Dane Placko's news report from the election on that issue.)
Maher's loss crowned Gorman as one of Orland Park's strongest politicians and there are rumors that she is considering running for mayor of Orland Park in the next election against McLaughlin. Maher's candidacy in this election and his loss in the countywide election and the story of his past criminal charges has put many races in jeopardy. Candidates running with the backing of McLaughlin and Clerk Maher are being challenged by a slate endorsed by Gorman not just at the Orland Fire Protection District but on the Village Board.
There is no doubt that the candidates with Gorman's backing will sweep the elections. Maher was being realistic.
I called Commissioner Gorman and asked her for a comment. She was very reserved and polite considering the mud that was thrown her way by some of Maher's minions and by some of the political people who backed Maher. She said, "I respect his decision and I wish him and his family well in his future endeavors."
Maher's exit from the race will not change the fact that his name will remain on the April 5 ballot. Is it a brilliant campaign trick, to build sympathy. Sources say no, that Maher is being honest and working to repair his public image. His release cites concerns for his family, avoiding a rehash of the past criminal charges and the campaign in which the mother of the boy who was beaten in 1991 spoke to voters twice in robo-calls to voters' homes.
There's no doubt she would have urged voters again to vote against Maher in the election.
April 5 election:
There are 36 candidates competing for 14 seats in five Orland Park races.
There are races for School Districts, where 11 candidates are in the field including in District 135 Joe LaMargo, the kindly Orland Park Village Deputy Clerk under Clerk Maher.
Maher's presence in the race put in jeopardy two seating trustees and allies, Edward Schussler and Patricia Gira, backed by McLaughlin. They are running on the Orland Park United Slate along with newcomer Carole Ruzich, an unknown name.
Gorman is backing the candidates of the Fiscal Voices for Orland slate including John Brudnak, Molly McAvoy Flynn and Steven Williams. Gorman's backing has given these three candidates voter power and the edge. Also running are independents Tom Cunningham, John Fotopoulos and a name from the past, Rich Kelly. Kelly, according to CapitolFax, is a cousin of former Cook County Assessor James Houlihan and Kelly serves as the Orland Township Assessor. (How many jobs can one guy hold?)
In the Orland Fire Protection District, Gorman's backed candidates include Christopher Evoy and Blair Rhode, seeking to replace Maher, who is both a trustee on the board and its president, and Maher ally Salvatore Cacciato. Janice Brooks is also running.
MAHER'S PRESS RELEASE
Orland Park, IL - Patrick Maher, president of the Orland Fire Protection District announced today he will not seek re-election to the board of trustees and is withdrawing his name from the April 5th ballot. Maher stated, "I gave the issue of running for another term a lot of thought, discussed it with my wife, Karrie, and my father, and decided that after eight years on the board, it's time to focus on my family and their needs."
Maher listed some accomplishments that the board made during his stewardship. "I've worked closely with the board members and fire chief to bring greater productivity and efficiencies to the department. I'm most proud of the fact that we simultaneously returned over $4 million to the taxpayers while improving OPFD's Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating to class 2," Maher said. The district's class 2 ISO rating places it within the top 3 percent of the best fire departments in the United States. "As a small business owner and homeowner, I always felt an obligation to provide the best service without imposing a bigger tax burden," Maher said.
Maher thanked his colleagues on the board, Chief Bryant Krizik, the firefighters and staff for working so hard to improve the district's performance during his time as president.
On a personal note, Maher said, "My wife and family went through a lot during the Cook County Commissioner's race and I couldn't ask them to endure another grueling political campaign." Maher ran unsuccessfully last November for Cook County Commissioner (17th District) against Commissioner Liz Gorman. "Karrie and I are glad not to rehash the same old issues that campaigns tend to bring. For the kid's sake and ours, it's time to move on," Maher said. "I'm honored to have served and glad to leave the district in good financial shape and among the best in the country," Maher stated.
-- Ray Hanania