Allegations of false endorsements are flying in the race for the Worth Township Board, where eight seats are up for grabs on April 9.
The current elected township officials who are running together as the United Party of Worth Township claim that two suburban mayors' endorsements touted in the opposition’s campaign literature and website are false and misleading to voters.
The long-time, township board is facing an aggressive challenge by the Worth Township Community First Party, whose slated candidates bill themselves as “reformers” that support term limits, salary freezes and suspension of pensions for part-time, elected township officials.
Among the dozens of endorsements racked up by the challengers are stamps of approval from Blue Island Mayor Donald Peloquin and Palos Heights Mayor Bob Straz.
Worth Township Clerk Roger Benson said both mayors endorsed his slate first.
“Mayor Peloquin gave us a glowing endorsement letter,” Benson said. “We’re the poster children for getting along.”
Peloquin’s letter dated March 18 states that since becoming mayor in 1985 the staff and elected officials at Worth Township have been “the best group to work with over my years of service to Blue Island.” He further wrote:
“In today’s society, it is indeed nice to have elected officials who constantly work for the people they serve."
Peloquin said this was the first he heard about his “endorsement” of the Community First Party when contacted by Patch.
“I sent [the Worth Township supervisor] a letter on my letterhead,” the Blue Island mayor said. “That’s my position right now.”
Read Mayor Peloquin's endorsement letter.
Worth Township Supervisor John “Jack” Murphy said in addition to Peloquin, that the United Party slate also received a “verbal endorsement” from Straz, who left them a voice mail.
In the phone message replayed for Patch, Straz complimented Murphy on the township board’s fine work on behalf of Palos Heights’ residents, and "to go ahead and use this in your campaign brochures. Whatever you guys need.”
Straz acknowledged leaving the message for Murphy.
“I don’t make a habit of endorsing other races,” the Palos Heights mayor said. “I just commented on what [the Worth Township Board] did for the residents of our town. That’s all I’m concerned about. It was just factual.”
Straz said he was also unaware of his name appearing on the list of endorsers for Worth Township Community First.
“They called me,” Straz said. “We were going to have a meeting but we never met. I didn’t put it there.”
Asked if he were going to mention it to Community First, Straz said, “not unless they want to take it up with me.”
The Community First Party, which includes experienced elected office holders and novices, and whose campaign is being advised by Worth Democratic Committeeman John O’Sullivan, may also have jumped the gun on listing an endorsement by Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski.
While Lipinski’s chief of staff, Jerry Hurckes, said his boss was planning to endorse Worth Township Community First in the upcoming April election, they wanted to review the slate’s campaign literature before putting Lipinski’s name on it.
In a call to Kevin Hughes, who is running against Murphy for town supervisor, they got Congressman Lipinski’s official endorsement as of Monday.
“We talked to Congressman Lipinski's office and we’re all set,” he said.
Calls have also gone out to the two suburban mayors. Hughes said that Peloquin had given his verbal endorsement to Community First trustee candidate Patrick Hanlon, at the Blue Island mayor’s recent fundraiser.
Hughes said that Straz had also given his verbal permission to put him on Community First’s endorsement list.
“We’ve gathered 41 endorsements,” Hughes said. “If one or two go neutral, that’s fine.”
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.