Mayor Says Nice Things About One-Time Political Foe Jerry Hurckes
Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann hopes to fill the vacancy left by the Dist. 1 trustee 'sooner rather than later.' Hurckes resigned from the village board on Wednesday.
Mayor Dave Heilmann seemed somewhat at a loss for words when contacted Wednesday afternoon for his reaction to his former adversary’s resignation from the Oak Lawn Village Board.
Heilmann and Trustee Jerry Hurckes once opposed each other in a bitterly fought campaign for village mayor in 2009. Words were exchanged and mud was slung.
On Wednesday, Hurckes emailed a letter to Heilmann and fellow village board members saying he was resigning as Dist. 1 trustee effective Aug. 31. Hurckes, who recently took back his old job as chief of staff for Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL), cited time demands.
“I had to make a decision of what to do in my life,” Hurckes told Patch.
Heilmann said Hurckes’ resignation was not unexpected. The trustee asked to stay on through the end of August because of upcoming votes on the village board next week.
“We all have to decide what’s best for our careers and family. I respect his decision,” Heilmann said. “I do know that he worked his heart out for residents in Dist. 1 and I think that was the reason why they always returned him to office.”
With a new realignment on the village board—Heilmann claims he is being attacked by his former allies who are suing him for leftover monies in the Unity Party’s campaign fund—the politically astute Hurckes kept out of such village board squabbles as the aborted referendum to change Oak Lawn’s form of government.
Hurckes ran unopposed for the Dist. 1 seat in the April consolidated election, “which means that residents wanted him to continue serving. No one challenged him for the position and that’s significant,” Heilmann said.
The mayor has seemed to form an alliance with his one-time foe. The long-running feud often exploded at epic proportions during village board meetings. Both men appeared chummy during the electoral board hearings challenging village trustee candidate Dan Sodaro’s eligibility.
“We never had a conversation about forming an alliance,” the mayor said. “You agree on some things and disagree on others, but there was no ‘let’s get together and do X, Y and Z.’”
Heilmann said much of the feud between him and Hurckes was overblown by the media.
“I remember when we met with the (Southtown) editorial board,” the mayor recalled. “They mentioned a number of articles of all the fights between he and I and there were really very few.”
Heilmann, who as mayor gets to appoint someone to finish out the rest of Hurckes’ term on the village board through 2013, said he hasn’t given the process a lot of thought.
“Even though there was discussion, this is still fairly new,” he said. “I want to start the process sooner rather than later.
"I will certainly ask for his opinion."