Orland Park’s mayor plans to run for congress
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau is planning to run for Congress in the newly re-mapped 6th District which is a Democratic stronghold that pits in next year’s elections two incumbent Democrats, Marie Newman from the old 3rd District, and Sean Casten from the old 6th District. Newman is the favored candidate. Pekau’s run for congress is another attempt to strengthen his weak base. He has very little chance of winning because he doesn’t understand how to build broad-based coalitions.
By Ray Hanania
Controversial Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau has decided to run for Congress in the newly re-mapped 6th Congressional District.
For the first time, everyone in Orland Park, the biggest city between Chicago and Joliet, will be represented by one member of Congress, which could result, finally, in giving the village a bigger voice in Federal matters, programs and funds and grants.
Currently, half of Orland Park is represented by do-nothing Congressman Bobby Rush.
The new 6th District was created because the 2020 Census shows a drop in Illinois’ population, in a large part because of the failed leadership of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his predecessor. We lost one district in Illinois so instead of 18 we now only have 17.
The map makers, Democrats, wanted to create a second Hispanic District, which is made from two separate areas of Chicagoland, one in the north and one in the south, connected by a narrow umbilical cord. It was a ridiculously drawn map to disenfranchise the voters of the regions in order to create a District that could be won by a Hispanic, Luis Gutierrez. Gutierrez has been succeeded by Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Under the new map, the former 4th district will become two predominantly Hispanic districts. The old 3rd District, held for years by former Congressman Dan Lipinski, but taken over by Newman in 2020, has been replaced by the 6th District merging Casten’s area with Newman’s.
But like I said, the new 6th District finally gives Orland Park the voice in Federal affairs that it never had. Orland Park was always divided on the Federal level with no real representation, until now.
The district is predominantly Democratic and it is more than likely that a Democrat will win. My sense is that Newman has a solid edge over Casten. Newman understands the needs and concerns of the district better than anyone and she works hard to represent everyone.
So how does Pekau fit into all this?
Pekau filed documents this week with the FEC to set the stage for his expected campaign. As usual, the real impetus is Pekau’s ego. Pekau barely won re-election in April 2021 against former Mayor Dan McLaughlin. Click to read the FEC filing.
Pekau won by only 355 votes out of 13,899 cast. That’s not only NOT a mandate, but it’s a reflection on his weak popularity in Orland Park. It’s a weakness that comes from Pekau’s inability to work with others and it has kept him from his dream of political coronation.
While McLaughlin’s big problem was his inability to forge broad coalitions of support, Pekau’s problems go further. Pekau is a lot like President Donald Trump who had some good programs and ideas but that were overshadowed and compromised by his inability to resist his petty personal attacks against anyone who challenged or criticized his actions. Pekau should remember that elected government officials are employed by the taxpayers and the voters; and the taxpayers have AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT to call him out.
Based on his eNewsletter, Pekau seems to spend a lot of time hating and attacking enemies, rather than focusing on making Orland Park a better community. He has no diplomatic skills. His re-election campaign was weakened because he focused more on undermining his critics than on boosting his campaign.
Most politicians recognize that criticism is an important part of the process. But like Trump, Pekau can’t stand criticism. He lashes out in an emotional and often exaggerated manner that is destructive, making whatever he says not only hard to believe, but irrelevant. He’s a hypocrite too. He loves to criticize everyone but acts like a wounded baby when he gets criticized.
McLaughlin was never like that. When he was criticized, he addressed the issues recognizing that criticism is a Constitutional right of the voters.
Pekau has no alliances with any members of the Illinois legislature in Springfield and he has spent the past four years personally and viciously attacking them all. He has attacked the unions, business leaders, former officials in Orland Park, and other local and municipal politicians, Democrats and Republicans.
It’s not surprising that Patrick O’Sullivan, one of the most mature and deliberate government officials in the region, easily defeated Pekau’s candidate for Village Clerk. In fact, O’Sullivan’s vote was very close to the vote that Pekau received suggesting that O’Sullivan has a mayoral run in his own future.
In the April elections, Pekau spread himself thin running all kinds of slates for nearly every office, instead of focusing on strengthening Orland Park. It only created greater animosity and fueled the divisions.
Orland Park is now shunned by nearly everyone on the local, state and federal levels because of Pekau’s mishandling of the interests and needs of the village’s constituents.
Many business owners in Orland Park fear his wrath, so they pretend they like him to avoid his vengeful nature.
Pekau expects to win the Republican Primary election next year. The primary election was delayed from March until June 28 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, something Pekau didn’t seem to really take seriously.
But in truth, even if he is challenged by another Republican, Pekau’s efforts will just become another nail in Orland Park’s needs. All of his bright press releases that focus on him can’t erase what residents in Orland Park see every day with a faltering business economy, lack of vision and stagnant progress.
Newman, who beat incumbent Dan Lipinski, is favored to defeat Casten, who beat out ultra-conservative Republican Jeanne Ives by nearly 30,000 votes in the November 3, 2020 election.
Pekau’s election campaign will just be another blip on a road filled with potholes of personal attacks and name calling. He lacks a vision for Orland Park. He can’t seem to get along with anyone except with his own political sycophants. How can someone like that be a strong and effective member of the Congress?
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. A political analyst and CEO of Urban Strategies Group, Hanania’s opinion columns on mainstream issues are published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. His Middle East columns are published in the Arab News. For more information on Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at email@example.com.)
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