“Law & Order” slate emerges for Norwood Park Township election

Seven candidates challenge Township Improvement Party incumbents

Law & Order is seeking seven of eight township elected seats

Townships are an often-forgotten layer of government in the suburbs of Cook County, receiving little attention from either candidates or voters.

Elections are held every four years, and the eight incumbents are usually re-elected without opposition.

Rare is it to have a year of competition on the ballot for the township. 2021 will be one of those years.

A new slate, Law & Order, will be contesting all elected offices for Norwood Park Township except assessor. They are:

  • Anthony Beckman – Township Supervisor. Beckman is an 18-year veteran of the Norridge Police Department, and was previously the Republican candidate for Illinois’ 10th state Senate district. Beckman is a Harwood Heights resident.
  • Michael Lupo – Highway Commissioner. Lupo is a small business owner and a resident of Park Ridge.
  • George Ballis – Clerk. Ballis is a 30 year veteran of risk management and assessment. He is currently a member of the District 80 finance committee. A Norridge resident, he is the publisher of NorridgeSpotlight.com.
  • Gus Rapatas – Trustee. Rapatas is a master automotive mechanic, and in business management and commercial property management. He is a Norridge resident and was briefly a candidate in 2019 for Norridge Village trustee.
  • Paul Malicki –  Trustee. Malicki is a US marine veteran and a 28-year veteran of the Norridge Police Department. A Norridge resident, Malicki was previously a candidate in 2019 for the Norwood Park fire board.
  • Mandy Lushniak and Kevin Hanley are both Trustee candidates from Park Ridge.

The Law & Order (L&O) slate is being backed by the Northwest Side GOP Club (NWSGOP), a Republican organization supporting area conservatives.

NWSGOP previously supported Beckman, as well as Illinois State house district 19 candidate Jeff Muehlfelder, in 2020.

Law & Order will face off against the incumbents of the Township Improvement Party (TIP).

The TIP is closely linked to the Norridge Improvement Party (NIP).

Both “Improvement” entities are supported by the Chicago 38th Ward Democratic Organization, a vehicle of Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan, and IL State senator Robert Martwick.

The party changes its name every election in order to avoid having to compete in a primary election, as the NIP has had to deal with in 2021. A previous party name was Township Unity Party. The current TIP slate is:

  • Tom Lupo – Township Supervisor. Lupo is a long time incumbent, and close ally of Martwick. Lupo is a Norridge resident and not related to Michael Lupo.
  • Larry Rogawski – Highway Commissioner. Rogawski is a long term incumbent and a Norridge resident.
  • Frances Salinsky – Clerk. Salinsky was first elected to Clerk in 2017 following the death of long time Clerk Rocco Secco. Salinsky was previously the elected Collector, a position now eliminated. Salinsky is a Harwood Heights resident.
  • Dennis Karns – Township Assessor. The position of township assessor is the only elected position with strict qualification requirements. A Norridge resident, Karns is the only incumbent running without opposition.
  • Paul Alongi – Trustee. A former Village of Norridge public works laborer, Alongi inherited the $66,000-annual “Buildings and Grounds Supervisor” Norridge patronage job from Mike Fanelli in 2019. He is a Norridge resident.
  • Anthony Nasca, Steve Wyda, and Dennis Stefanowicz Jr round out the TIP ticket as trustees from Norridge, Harwood Heights, and Park Ridge, respectively. Nasca is a former treasurer for Martwick’s political action committee.

All areas of Norridge except west of Cumberland, and all of Harwood Heights, are within Norwood Park Township (NPT); the west part of Norridge is Leyden Township.

There are unincorporated areas of NPT north of Norridge and Harwood Heights. Portions of Park Ridge north of Higgins Road are in NPT.

There will be no primary election for either of these slates.

Both L&O and TIP will appear on the April 6 consolidated election ballot.

Tannhauser’s party paid for objector’s attorney

Campaign finance report shows Norridge Improvement Party paid Scott Erdman, Straughn’s attorney

Details are coming to light over the objections filed by Michael Straughn against myself (Adam Chudzik), Anna Mitera, Andrew Kopinski, and the term limits petitions.

Some of those details including who is actually funding the objection. More specifically, who paid for the attorney used by Straughn.

Scott Erdman was paid by the Norridge Improvement Party

Straughn has not attended any of the hearings thus far, instead being represented by Chicago attorney Scott Erdman. Ostensibly, Erdman is working for Straughn.

However, a campaign finance report filed by the Norridge Improvement Party (NIP) for the fourth quarter of 2020 shows the NIP’s political action commitee sent a $3,500 payment to Erdman on December 21.

The payment was made mere days after the three candidates filed their nomination papers.

A week later, on December 29th, the last day objections could be submitted, Straughn filed the four objections.

The Norridge Improvement Party’s previous attorney was Richard Means, who died on December 18th from COVID-19.

According to committee information for the NIP on the Illinois State Board of Elections website, Daniel Tannhauser is the chairperson of the Norridge Improvement Party, with Jack Bielak, the treasurer.

Tannhauser was appointed to the position of Norridge’s Village President in July of 2019. Jack Bielak was elected in 2019 as a Norridge Village Trustee.

Bias and conflict of interest

The big issue here: Tannhauser is also the chairperson of the electoral board hearing the objections!

The other members of the Norridge electoral board are also Norridge Improvement Party members – Jackie Gregorio, and Ursula Kucharski.

Tannhauser, Gregorio and Kucharski have all funded their party’s political action committee through campaign contributions.

It’s clear Straughn is just a proxy. The real objector behind the scenes appears to be Daniel Tannhauser, and his masters in the Chicago 38th ward.

I have been a vocal opponent of the 38th ward takeover of Norridge and more specifically, Tannhauser’s patron Robert Martwick, a close ally of Mike Madigan.

This payment to Erdman by the Norridge Improvement Party ties it all together.

Clearly, the judges, including and especially Tannhauser, have clear and present bias, and a conflict of interest. It’s also highly unethical behavior on their part.

At a subsequent hearing, Tannhauser had the arrogance to state he didn’t make any payments to Scott Erdman.

Clearly Tannhauser was stung by the payment revelation, and his statement was an attempt at damage control.

But the proof is all there to see, and no denials will make this issue go away.

None of us can possibly get a fair hearing when the judges are all Norridge Improvement Party, and are funding the objector’s attorney.

Adam Chudzik, Norridge


Objections filed against independent trustees, referendum

Michael Straughn files objections against trustee candidates Chudzik, Mitera, and Kopinski, plus the term limits referendum

Straughn’s attorney, Scott Erdman, claimed improper binding of the petitions as a justification for the objection against trustee candidates Adam Chudzik, Anna Mitera,  and Andrew Kopinski, as well as the term limits referendum.

Straughn’s objections are being heard by the Norridge electoral board

Straughn also objected to the wording of the referendum, claiming it was confusing to voters.

Zoom meetings were held January 5th for the trustees and referendum by the Norridge Municipal Officers Electoral Board.

The electoral board for the trustee candidates consists of current appointed Village President Daniel Tannhauser, Village Trustee Jackie Gregorio, and Village Trustee Ursula Kucharski.

Village Clerk Debra Budnik recused herself as she is currently running for Village Trustee on the Norridge Improvement Party slate.

The electoral board for the referendum consists of members from outside Norridge. Outsiders were chosen due to a conflict of interest.

On January 8th, Frank Avila, attorney for the all three candidates, as well as the referendum proponents, filed a preliminary motion to dismiss both objections against the term limits petitions.

Avila’s motion cited recent court cases in which the binding requirement was relaxed.

Avila also provided evidence of a term limits referendum using identical text that was submitted to the ballot in another Cook County municipality, earning 84% YES votes of the 2,874 voters participating.

At an hearing January 12th via Zoom, testimony was heard from witnesses. As of this writing no recording of the meeting has been published.

A follow up hearing for the trustees objection is scheduled for Friday, January 15th, where the board members may issue their final decisions.

Chudzik, Mitera, and Kopinski submitted paperwork to run for trustee in April as independents with no party or slate affiliation.

If they survive the objections, they will appear on the April 6 ballot opposite the three Norridge Improvement Party trustees who win the Feb 23 primary election.

Michael Straughn is currently the Vice President of the District 234 school board, and a Village of Norridge zoning board member.

Straughn has sought re-election for the District 234 board, and is running unopposed in the April 2021 local election.

All members of the Norridge Municipal Officers Electoral Board are Norridge Improvement Party members.

Daniel Tannhauser is seeking election in April 2021 for the office of Norridge’s Village president, where he is being challenged by Tom Benigno.

Only four candidates file for eight D79, D80 board positions

Districts 79 and 80 are both short two candidates, creating opportunity for write-in candidates

For the District 80 board of education, current board members Renzo Berardi and Maria Lala have filed for two of District 80’s four open board positions.

Tim Ludston, elected in 2017 as a write-in, and Pasquale Biondo, re-elected in 2017, did not file to appear on the ballot as of the December 21 2020 deadline.

At District 79, David Tarjan and Shiela Wachholder, both incumbents, submitted paperwork for re-election.

Current board president Michael Malusa, on the board since 1993, and board member Michael Beckman, did not file for re-election.


The lack of candidates to fill the available seats presents an opportunity for write-in candidates to secure a seat on these elected boards without having to collect the 50 minimum signatures required to be on the ballot.

In Cook County, write-in candidates must submit forms to the Cook County Clerk for votes to be counted.

To become a write-in candidate, one must file a notarized Declaration of Intent and Statement of Economic Interest with the County Clerk’s office.

The deadline to submit the forms is February 4 2021.

If enough write-ins do not file, the boards of education for each district will fill the vacancies by appointment, which are effective until the next scheduled election.

Norridge Improvement Party walking streets with Chicago workers

Mike Madigan’s 38th Ward Democratic Organization continues to interfere in Norridge elections

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.

Frank Avino out walking with…

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.

… Madigan’s Democratic Organization 38th Ward boss David Feller.

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”.

Danny Donnelly is running in the Norridge primary Feb 23

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.