By Dan Haley
See a recap of our liveblog coverage here.
It closed out in recent weeks as a contentious battle between two formerly collegial River Forest village trustees. But voters Tuesday chose Cathy Adduci as the next village president over Michael Gibbs by a decisive margin. Adduci tallied 64 percent of the vote to Gibbs' 36 percent.
In the race for three open trustee seats it was also not a good night for Gibbs and his hand-picked slate. Voters turned to two independent trustee candidates in Thomas Cargie, currently a park district board member, and Roma Colwell-Steinke, the current village clerk. Also elected trustee was Thomas Dwyer Jr., the lone member of the Gibbs slate to win office Tuesday.
Turnout in the high-interest race topped 31 percent among River Forest's 7,770 registered voters. Which is about 10 points than typical local elections.
Adduci celebrated her big win Tuesday at the Good Earth Café on Madison Street with her mother, daughter and what she estimated to be 100-150 supporters. "I'm really enjoying the evening. Lots of good people. Good karma." She downplayed the margin of her win but said that she had "felt good going in."
Adduci, as she did during the campaign, stuck to her message Tuesday. She emphasized safety in the community, working to increase property values and doing that, in part, by stabilizing property taxes. She said she would actively pursue collaboration among local governments as one way to deliver services more efficiently and cost-effectively.
"We have to collaborate with other government units. I'm confident we will reach out to other taxing bodies in River Forest and in neighboring communities."
Colwell-Steinke and Cargie were at Adduci's party Tuesday. Adduci touted both as veterans of local government but also spoke up for Tom Dwyer Jr. of Gibbs' slate, calling him "young and energetic."
Adduci said she had heard from Gibbs and described the call as "very gracious. I wished him well and thanked him for his service to River Forest."
Gibbs, who gathered with supporters Tuesday evening at Kevil's restaurant in Forest Park, was muted in his response to his clear defeat. With the county election board posting final precinct tallies at about 8:15 p.m., Gibbs conceded the loss.
"I'll be calling Cathy soon to wish her well," he said. He emphasized the clear decision made by voters and said, "When push comes to shove, the voters decide. I don't know what I could do that I didn't do in the campaign. Candidates move on with their lives. That what I intend to do. I certainly wouldn't do anything to counteract Cathy's presidency. That's not me."
He expressed satisfaction that Dwyer had won election to the board but touted the hard work of Lissa Druss Christman as a trustee candidate.
Just four years ago Gibbs and Adduci had joined together as trustee candidates aligned with John Rigas who headed the slate and was chosen as village president. But with Rigas' decision to step aside after one term as president, both Gibbs and Adduci chose to make it a race. Gibbs hand-picked three trustee candidates to run as a full slate. Adduci, however, ran independently though there were hints of an alignment with Cargie and Colwell Steinke.
After Rigas endorsed Gibbs, citing his long ties to the community, the campaign came into new focus and the tone became more personal. That tension was best characterized in March when Kevin Hanley, one of Gibbs' trustee candidates abruptly withdrew from the race, claiming that Adduci had lied to him in a phone discussion about another River Forest person. Hanley would never provide details about the alleged falsehood and Adduci said she had no notion of what Hanley was upset about.
This article has been corrected from a previous version.