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Schussler can’t hold on vs. First Orland slate backed by McLaughlin

 

 

     The biggest winner in Tuesday night’s election was not even on the ballot.

Candidates backed by Orland Park Mayor Daniel McLaughlin and his political organization swept to victory in school board races, as well as the heart of his turf, the Orland Park Village Board.

Longtime Trustee Edward G. Schussler—a man with 17 years of service on the board and a political pedigree that includes being a former acting mayor and the descendant of two other mayors—was dislodged by McLaughlin’s First Orland Party slate.

With all 50 precincts reporting, incumbents Carole Griffin Ruzich and Patricia A. Gira led with 3,387 (27.54 percent) and 3,357 votes (27.3 percent), respectively. Newcomer Michael F. Carroll grabbed the final slot, with 2,897 (23.56 percent) tallies, and Schussler was stuck at the bottom with 2,656 (21.6 percent).

Some 4,882 voters cast ballots in the race, for a 10.75 percent turnout, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office,

Tuesday’s result was quite a difference for Schussler from four years ago when he was the top vote getter in the April 2011 election that saw a nine-way race for three slots. In that election he ran on the same ticket with Gira and Ruzich under the Orland Park United banner backed by McLaughlin.

McLaughlin made his slate months ago and left Schussler off, claiming that Schussler had earlier said he had no plans to run for re-election in 2015. Schussler has said he has no recollection of saying that.

Beyond their political differences, not much separated the optimistic views of the four candidates, which may have helped explain Schussler’s loss.

Another explanation is the simple disadvantage of flying solo versus in a squadron.

“When you run with a slate, you have certain advantages,” Schussler said Tuesday night. “You have that many more people putting your campaign signs out there, you have that many more people knocking on doors and getting your name out. When you’re on your own, you have yourself, your family and friends.”

Schussler said he was proud that he ran a positive campaign and grateful that his opponents did, as well. It has been a trying campaign season as he has been struggling with his wife’s health issues from the ill effects of surgery since last December.

With his departure, the board will lose what some agree is a solid advocate for Orland Park’s business community, as well as a champion of public works and infrastructure upgrades.

A director of the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce, Schussler said he is uncertain if he will continue in his role as a bridge between the Chamber and the Village Board.

“I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen,” Schussler said of his future involvement, noting that he is active in the Orland Park Kiwanis Club. “One thing I know, I won’t be bored.”

            Carroll said he is eager to get started in his new position next month.

            “This was exciting, a very close race,” he said. “I’m proud that we ran a clean campaign, a positive effort with a good team. We met a lot of good people and touched people individually.”

            He acknowledged the power of McLaughlin’s endorsement and said that every candidate on the mayor’s palm card this year, as well as in 2013, won.

            As a former police officer, Carroll said he would be interested in serving on the board’s Public Safety Committee, a committee already chaired by Trustee Daniel Calandriello. “Really, though, the mayor makes those decisions on committee assignments, and I’ll gladly serve where I can do the most good,” he said. Calandriello chalked up 3,913 votes Tuesday running unopposed on the ballot for a two-year unexpired term, also as part of the McLaughlin-backed First Orland Party slate.

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Photo by Jeff Vorva

Orland Park village Trustee Ed Schussler stands amid a portrait gallery of Orland’s mayors, himself included, inside Village Hall on Election Day.

 

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