Outsiders brought in to prop up Frank Avino ahead of NIP primary election
Does the “Norridge” Improvement Party (NIP) actually have any campaign workers… who live in Norridge?
And of those few, how many aren’t Village employees on taxpayer dime? Or local politicians themselves?
Even fewer it seems. And none of them, apparently, are willing to campaign for Frank Avino.
Residents have been reporting Avino and his entourage canvassing neighborhoods for the past 5 weeks or so.
A closer look at some of the people walking with Avino shows they are not Norridge residents.
One guy in particular, is someone who has been walking through our Village for the past two years like he owns it: David M Feller.
Feller is the Chicago 38th Ward boss of Mike Madigan’s Democratic Organization.
Frank Avino himself is the nominal head of the Norwood Park Township Democratic Organization, effectively an extension of the 38th Ward Dem Org.
Both are controlled by 38th Ward Democratic Committeeman (and IL state senator) Robert Martwick… who’s strings are, in turn, pulled by Boss Madigan.
We have previously warned of the Chicago 38th Ward Democratic Organization’s involvement in Norridge politics.
Two years ago, they managed to get two of their people installed on the Norridge Village Board – Jack Bielak and Bill Larson – after getting their opponents effectively thrown off the ballot.
Madigan’s Democratic Organization took advantage of additional uncontested races in 2019 to get more of their people placed on the Norwood Park fire board and Eisenhower Public Library board.
Feller and Avino’s canvassing of neighborhoods this early reveals concern over a primary challenge by Danny Donnelly.
Norridge Primary Election
Three trustees initially filed to run under the Norridge Improvement Party banner: Frank Avino, Debbie Budnik, and Andrew Ronstadt.
Later, Danny Donnelly also filed as NIP. As there are four NIP candidates competing for three seats, a primary election will be held Feb 23.
Primaries are a rare event in Norridge, as the “Norridge Improvement Party” would change its party slate name to avoid competition for their “preferred” candidates; a previous NIP alias was “Village Economy Party”.
Some critics have said Donnelly isn’t actually a Norridge Improvement Party member, and shouldn’t be contesting the NIP slate.
Donnelly, however, pointed to a key NIP endorsement in 2018 when he ran for Norwood Park Township Democratic Committeeman.
“[Then NIP mayor] James Chmura endorsed me for committeeman in 2018 at a Norridge Improvement Party fundraiser”, Donnelly said.
“I also attended the NIP golf outing fundraiser in 2019”, Donnelly added.
The Feb 23 primary is a rematch of sorts for Donnelly vs Avino, given Avino was also his opponent for the Committeeman race.
Donnelly is a member of the political action group Citizens in Action for Better Government.
“CIA”, as they’re known, has supported both Democratic and Republican candidates, and is supporting Tom Benigno’s 2021 independent run for Norridge Village President.
When asked to comment about Madigan Democrats coming in to canvass neighborhoods for Avino, Donnelly said the NIP used to be about keeping out Chicago politics from Norridge.
“The NIP has always said they are going to keep the Chicago politics out, and they are now bringing them in, full force,” Donnelly said.
Sending the 38th ward boss Feller to walk Norridge streets seems to indicate Norridge’s importance to Martwick, his former hometown.
In the November 2020 general election, Martwick did very poorly in Norridge, losing 8 of Norridge’s 9 precincts, with the single precinct he won bested by a mere nine votes.
Donnelly seemed to think Martwick’s Norridge performance in 2020 was due to a lack of engagement by Martwick in the community.
“If Martwick cared about Norridge, he’d still live here”, Donnelly said.
Watch out for strangers
In September, appointee-Village President Daniel Tannhauser sent out a robocall where he “warned” residents about calling police on people they don’t recognize knocking on their door.
What he seems to have failed to take into account, however… was that the strangers he was talking about… are from his own party – the Chicago Democratic Party.
The question is: are Norridge voters going to fall for it?
Next time a “Norridge” Improvement Party campaigner comes to your door stumping for Avino or Tannhauser, and if you’re curious to know where they call home, ask them to produce a photo ID showing a Norridge address.
If they refuse… you’ll have your answer.