By Joseph Ruzich
Special to the Tribune
7:48 AM EST, February 27, 2013
Larry Dominick declared victory Tuesday for a third term as town president of Cicero, following a bitter campaign in a suburb rarely lacking in political controversy.
According to unofficial results, with 30 of 33 precincts reporting, Dominick had 5,287 votes, just over 60 percent. Former McPier chief executive Juan Ochoa had 2,655 votes, and former Cicero senior services director Joe Pontarelli had 788. By finishing with more than 50 percent of the vote, Dominick avoid a runoff in April.
The mood was upbeat at Dominick’s headquarters at Al’s Restaurant on Cermak Road. Hundreds of supporters ate pizza and watched the returns before Dominick spoke to them.
“We had a lot of good people behind us,” he said. “I was looking for 70 percent of the vote, but 60 percent isn’t bad.”The campaign was marred in recent weeks by accusations of voter intimidation and fraud, including the alleged mishandling of mail-in ballots. The Cook County clerk's office called for county and federal law authorities to investigate.
Dominick, who was first elected in 2005, contended the town is better off than it was before he became president. He said he has focused on reducing crime. He also noted that new parks, an ice rink and a community center were built under his administration, and he added that the town recently bought land for an aquatic center.
Dominick said that he was confident that residents would re-elect him because of his job performance. His stiffest challenge came from Ochoa, who accused Dominick of using his position to benefit himself and his family financially.
In 2009, the Tribune reported that relatives of Dominick sat on town boards that provide a salary and health insurance. Among them were Dominick's son, mother, sister and nephew. In 2010, the town cut back on some benefits for new board members, only offering them either money or health insurance.
Ochoa vowed not to hire family members if elected. He also promised to examine spending and to make changes in town government. He also said he would focus on working with the school districts to improve education, design a comprehensive plan that would benefit residents and businesses, and hire more police officers to combat crime.
Pontarelli called for curbing nepotism, reforming government and saving tax dollars. He also wanted to redevelop the Cermak Road commercial district, enhance senior and youth programs and strengthen police presence.
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