Worth Township Race Heats Up
Slate of challengers running for Worth Township board declares victory over old guard's announcement of salary and benefit freezes for elected township officials.
A slate of upstart challengers are declaring a victory with last week’s announcement that all salaries and benefits for elected Worth Township officials would be frozen until 2017.
The current Worth Township board, that is running together on the United Party of Worth Township slate in the upcoming April election, approved the resolution on Feb. 28. In addition to salary and benefit freezes, township officials voted unanimously not to reduce services to seniors and youth.
The United Party slate also announced that they going door to door throughout the township and gathering voters’ signatures on a petition supporting the salary and benefit freezes.
The Township of Worth includes the communities of Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Alsip, Blue Island, Palos Heights, Chicago Ridge, Worth, Crestwood, Merrionette Park, Bridgeview, Hometown and Robbins.
“It’s a way of introducing ourselves,” Town Supervisor Jack Murphy said of the United Party, which is fielding a bipartisan slate of candidates for Worth Township offices in one of the few contested local races.
In addition to Murphy, the other United Party candidates include Roger Benson for town clerk, John Z. Toscas for assessor, and Steve Loulousis for highway commissioner. John “Jack” Lind, Michael Mahoney, Kelly Houlihan and David Walsh round out the slate for township trustee seats.
The long-time, township board is facing a stiff challenge by the Worth Township Community First Party. The challengers bill themselves as “reform” candidates that support term limits, salary freezes and suspension of pensions for the part-time, elected township officials.
The Community First slate includes Kevin Hughes for town supervisor; Katie Elwood for clerk; John Dietrick, assessor; Edward Moody, highway commissioner; and trustee candidates Patrick Hanlon, Eamon McMahon, Richard Lewandowski and Theresa Roche.
Hughes, who’s challenging Murphy for town supervisor, described the resolution as a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” kind of approach.
“I feel like we already have a win,” Hughes said. “We believe in term limits and we’re not going to give ourselves a raise because we know taxpayers don’t want it. Taxpayers want to see money being used for the township.”
Undated payroll data available through the Better Government Association shows Murphy as earning an annual salary of $42,000 as town supervisor.
The late village clerk, Tom “Bud” Gavin was paid $30,000. Gavin passed away last year and former township trustee Roger Benson was appointed to the clerk's office.
Town Assessor Toscas, who’s running for dual seats in Worth Township and as mayor of Crestwood, is also paid $30,000 annually. Highway Commissioner Loulousis makes $31,000 as the town highway commissioner.
The annual salary for a town trustee is $10,000.
Murphy said that in the 16 years that most of the board has been together, township elected officials have only allowed themselves one raise.
“We don’t get the cost of living increase. We never accepted it,” Murphy said. “Other years we voted against increasing salaries.”
The Worth Township Community First Party thinks the old guard—Murphy, Toscas, Benson, Mahoney and Lind—who were first elected in 1997 have been in office too long.
The challengers say that if elected this spring they will volunteer to term limits, although their campaign doesn't indicate what they think is an acceptable number of terms.
“They talk about our term limits,” said Muphy, a republican. “Do they talk about [Illinois House] Speaker [Mike] Madigan or [U.S. Rep] Bobby Rush? They never bring up the democrats’ term limits.”
The consolidated election is April 9.
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