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CAMPAIGN 2022: Carr, Justak square off to be GOP leader in Lyons Township

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By Steve Metsch

The race for Republican Committeeperson in Lyons Township is between the current office holder and a mayor eager to replace her.

Incumbent Katie Justak, who is in her first election, was appointed to the position in December by Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison(17th), chairman of the Cook County Republican party.

Her challenger is Terrance Carr, who owns the Steak-N-Egger diner chain, and also is the mayor of McCook.

“Why do I want to be committeeperson? Republican values. Times are changing,” Carr said.

dvn Katie Justak

Katie Justak

There’s also a family tradition for Carr.

His grandfather, who founded the chain of diners, was Republican committeeman of the township and served in an even rarer position: A Republican commissioner on the historically Democratic Cook County Board.

Although Justak, a La Grange resident, has on been on the job for six months, Carr said: “It’s time for a change.”

“Lyons Township has no leadership in the Republican party,” he said.

Justak, who formerly worked in public relations and is a stay-at-home mother of three daughters and one son ages 11 to 16, is a lifelong Republican who wants to drum up more interest in the Grand Old Party.

“I’d like to grow the organization in Lyons Township,” she said. “There are so many who don’t know the Republican organization exists.”

Hosting monthly meetings and events will try to grow that recognition.

dvn terrance carr headshot

Terrance Carr

Another goal is recruiting candidates, noting that no Republicans are on the ballot for many elected offices at local levels.

“People deserve a choice,” she said. “We should try to do our best to find people to run for office who represent what we believe in public service should do.”

That means finding and supporting people with an interest in and dedicated to public service, she said.

Both said their goals are to work with elected officials who are Democrats.

Noting the wide void between the two parties, Justak said, “We need to get back to being able to agree to disagree if we do.”

Carr agrees that on a local level, both sides should put differences aside: “It takes a Republican and a Democrat to get things done. The bottom line is working together.”

He has a track record of working well with Mayor Christopher Getty, a Democrat, in neighboring Lyons. And he’s friendly with Bridgeview Mayor and outgoing state Senator Steve Landek, another Democrat.

Carr has been busy the past two years cleaning up McCook’s village government ever since he took office from embattled former mayor Jeff Tobolski, who resigned in early 2020 while under a federal investigation into extortion.

Carr, then a trustee, was appointed to serve out the remainder of Tobolski’s mayoral term. Then, in 2021, he was elected to a four-year term as mayor.

One of his first acts was to replace the former police chief who was also indicted by the feds regarding the case involving Tobolski.

“Look at the reform we’ve done in McCook,” Carr said.

Next week, he will attend a groundbreaking ceremony that is bringing 2 million square feet of warehouse space to the village at the northeast corner of 55th Street and East Avenue.

Justak is heavily involved in The Lincoln Series.

The project provides leadership and campaign training designed to increase the number of Illinois Republican women in elected and appointed governmental and political positions at local, state and federal levels.

“People don’t realize how diverse the Republican party really is,” she said.

Justak served on the La Grange 2020 Task Force, appointed by a former village mayor. She also headed the non-partisan Citizens Council in La Grange.

She noted that there are no Republicans currently on the Lyons Township board, a situation she hopes to rectify if elected to the four-year term as committeeperson.

“You can’t discount people just because they don’t have the same views as you,” she added.

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