Committeeman candidates give views
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
A suburban firefighter, a disc jockey and a former city worker, all backed by current or former aldermen, discussed their campaigns for the post of 41st Ward Democratic committeeman.
The candidates are Elmwood Park firefighter and Ebinger School Local School Council member Tim Heneghan, event coordinator and disc jockey Goran Davidovac and Norwood Park resident and former city worker Andrew DeVito.
Committeemen are in charge of slating candidates in aldermanic, legislative and judicial races for their party, and they often campaign for and raise funds for candidates. They also work to increase voter turnout and ensure that elections run smoothly.
Heneghan, who has been endorsed by former 41st Ward alderman Mary O’Connor and several labor unions, said that he decided to run after O’Connor, who was the ward’s committeeman, stepped down.
"O’Connor has been the committeeman for about 8 years and she decided not to run again, and (she said) that it was an open seat and that I was a good fit for the job," Heneghan said.
Heneghan said that he has lived in the ward for more than 20 years and that he has been involved in the community. Aside from being a member on the local school council, he has volunteered as an athletic director at Ebinger and has coached several teams there.
"The committeeman job is really a grassroots job to help select great candidates," Heneghan said. "My main concern is that our governor’s stance on unions is unacceptable and because of that we need to slate candidates who oppose that stance."
Heneghan said that he has been knocking on doors and meeting residents. "It’s really been grinding work going door to door since September," he said.
Heneghan said that when he decided to run, Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) endorsed a Democratic candidate because the alderman would not run for the Republican committeeman post, which is held by state Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-20).
"Napolitano is a Republican and he won’t run as a Republican because it’s McAuliffe’s job, so he is trying to get his Democratic candidate in there," Heneghan said. "Napolitano is running a Democratic guy because he is afraid what I might do in 2020."
Heneghan said that he wants to concentrate on being a good committeeman and that he has not made any plans for the future. "But who knows, one day I might wake up and say that I want to run for alderman," he said.
"The narrative is that I am O’Connor’s guy, but that is overblown," Heneghan said. "I didn’t know her when she was elected but I got to meet her later and she said that I would be a good fit for this job. But I’m my own man. (DeVito) is Napolitano’s guy."
Teamsters Local 700 has endorsed DeVito for his strong union background and political agenda to protect the middle class. DeVito has lived in Norwood Park since 1996, and he has worked for the city as a laborer in the Department of Streets and Sanitation and later in the Department of Aviation, according to the union.
According to his campaign Web site, DeVito retired as general foreman of construction projects at O’Hare in 2002 and was promoted in 2012 to community liaison for Laborers District Council of Illinois, which represents nine counties in the state. He served for 12 years as an elected delegate for both the Laborers District Council and the AFL-CIO Laborers Local 1, according to the Web site.
"I will be an active leader and will work with our elected officials to improve our ward," DeVito said in a statement. "I am thrilled to have Alderman Napolitano’s endorsement of my candidacy. I will communicate with volunteer leaders of our schools, parks, churches and civic organizations to share our goals and vision with the families of our ward.
"Working together we will continue the progress made on our community issues. It will be a great honor to server the 41st Ward residents."
DeVito’s campaign manager said that the candidate has been busy campaigning and that he was unable to respond to requests for an interview.
Davidovac was born and raised on the Northwest Side and graduated from Taft High School, where he served as a student representative on the local school council. He received an associate’s degree in hospitality management from Northwestern Business College and a bachelor’s degree in technical management from DeVry University. He is a father of three children and is a community member on the Taft LSC.
"I have a steady public service record and I have been a part of the Taft LSC for a long time, and I have been a community facilitator," Davidovac said.
Davidovac said he is running for the committeeman job because he wants to improve the quality of life on the Northwest Side which has been affected by noise from O’Hare International Airport, relieve overcrowding at Taft and relieve the property tax burden on residents.
"I think that the biggest concern of the job is getting the people who will be slated, and to me that is an important position, despite what people say," Davidovac said. "You get to have a seat at the table and can support candidates that understand our issues and will work on resolving them, rather than giving excuses.
Davidovac said that the quality of life on the Northwest Side has deteriorated. "It’s only gotten worse under the current leadership," he said. "There are a lot of honest people who need an elected official who will work on improving the quality of life."
"One of my main concerns is increasing voter turnout," Davidovac said. "As dismal as the turnout is out here, it’s still a lot better than elsewhere in the city and we need to work to increase that and make it better."
Davidovac said that one of his priorities would be to partner with local high schools and community colleges to increase voter registration. "Partnering with Taft for example, where there will be 650 seniors who will soon be eligible to vote can be a huge factor for us," he said.
Davidovac said that he understands that he is the "longshot candidate" in the race but that he is taking the race seriously. He said that he was surprised when he received the endorsement of Alderman John Arena (45th) and the 45th Ward Democratic Organization.
"Stranger things have happened, and people are upset and I’m looking for an upset," Davidovac said. "I want a seat at the table, and I have been doing this for a long time and I have been involved at the local level. This is my first run for a political position that is unpaid, so I’m not doing this for a pension."
Heneghan said that Davidovac did not submit the required number of signatures but he remained on the ballot because he didn’t challenge the signatures.
"He waited for the last minute and got in 200 signatures when you need 700. I could have knocked him off the ballot easily but I said, whatever, the kid wants to run so let him run, God bless him," Heneghan said.
"The narrative is that the previous alderman and the current alderman are butting heads for power, but I think, and I know this may be naive, but enough of politics, let’s concentrate on the people and getting good leadership," Davidovac said.