There’s an old saying that politics is local, and it doesn’t get any more local than the 2013 mayoral race in Oak Lawn, Ill.
The never-ending, political-ping pong game to schedule a candidates’ forum before the April 9 election, came to a head on Wednesday evening. Mayor Dave Heilmann and mayoral challenger, Sandra Bury, exchanged heated words at the according to the participants and those who witnessed it.
The mayor arrived sometime after 7 p.m. Wednesday, the date he had suggested for a rescheduled candidates’ forum. He was all ready to debate the mayoral challenger only to discover that the post’s regularly scheduled Wednesday night bingo game was in progress.
Waiting in the lounge were Bury, John Crivellone, the Mason whose been attempting to broker a village board candidates’ forum, and Bury supporter, Andy Skoundrianos.
“[Bury] did not respond to my private email and did not respond publicly to my request on Patch, and of course, no debate was set up,” a clearly upset Heilmann told Patch on Wednesday evening. “I was pretty confident they would show up for the sole purpose of saying that the mayor didn’t show up.”
Heilmann alleged that when he entered the building Crivellone started yelling at him.
“I offered publicly and privately that I was sincere in my efforts and asked several times to please give me a date,” the mayor said. “I don’t want to fight here. It was not a pleasant situation.”
The argument spilled outside, where the mayor says Bury and Skoundrianos followed him to the parking lot.
“I left the VFW and was told by Sandra Bury that ‘I can’t wait to kick your ass,’” Heilmann said. “Those were her exact words standing in the parking lot of the VFW.”
The mayor said he had told Bury to pick a date because they were approaching Easter week and to find someone impartial.
“This is not how you conduct yourself,” Heilmann said. “In the past two elections there were forums and I participated in both. None of us had an issue 2005 and 2009. There were multiple candidates the other years and we worked it out.”
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Heilmann said Skoundrianos also yelled that the only reason Heilmann became mayor was because he rode on two-term incumbent Village Clerk Jane Quinlan’s coattails, a statement Skoundrianos confirms.
“He was getting in Sandy’s face,” Skoundrianos alleged. “I said, ‘she’s a lady. Treat her better.’”
Crivellone says he met Bury and Skoundrianos at the VFW post just in case the mayor showed up. He claims he tried to contact the mayor “a multitude of times’ to tell him March 27 was out because of the post’s weekly bingo game.
He says he offered the mayor April 1, documented by several text messages, but Heilmann never responded. Crivellone acknowledges that some yelling took place during his 30-second interplay with the mayor.
Crivellone said. “Before this election I wasn’t paying attention. [The mayor] says I’m a ‘vocal critic.’ He’s blasted my name all over the Internet. I’m tired of his BS.”
Bury confirms she told the mayor that she couldn’t wait to beat him on April 9, but admits that she may have used more colorful language. She says she’s not proud of it.
Those who saw the exchange said it was the first time they had ever seen Bury get that angry.
“He was very aggressive with me. He was calling me names like liar,” Bury alleged. “He started berating the people I was running with saying they were all going to jail.”
Heilmann said he didn’t want to ascribe any motives to his mayoral opponent.
“All anybody cares about is whether there is a forum or not,” the mayor said. “I don’t think they want to hear one candidate tell another that she can’t wait to kick his ass.”
Post Commander Bob Hennessy confirms the mayor walked through the door of the VFW hall around 7 p.m.
“I told him, ‘Mr. Mayor, we have bingo every Wednesday night,'” Hennessy said. 'If there's supposed to be a get together, I don't think anybody is going to show up.'"
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