Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau poses at Liberty School Tuesday during the primary election. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)
Pekau vs. Casten ready to rumble in 6th Distict
By Jeff Vorva
The preliminaries are over in the newly aligned 6th Congressional District.
Now it’s time for the main event.
Pekau vs. Casten.
After Tuesday’s primary election, Keith Pekau, the mayor of Orland Park, had a huge lead over five opponents on the Republican side and is ready to take on Democratic survivor Sean Casten, who unofficially beat out fellow incumbent Marie Newman. Results won’t become official until they are certified in the coming weeks.
During Pekau’s celebration at Papa Joe’s in Orland Park, he predicted there would be few fence-sitters when it comes to this race against Casten, which concludes Nov. 8.
“People have a distinct choice,” Pekau said. “We have opposite views on just about everything.
“He’s on record as running against veterans. I support veterans. He’s on record as wanting higher gas prices. I don’t want to see higher gas prices. He’s on record supporting [Cook County State’s Attorney] Kim Foxx’s policies. I want to see lower crime. People will have a clear choice on who is going to represent the district.”
Unofficial totals from the Cook County Clerk’s Office and DuPage County showed Pekau with a heavy lead in the district with six out of the 227 Cook County precincts yet to be released.
Pekau had 19,335 votes to lead the pack.
Burr Ridge’s Gary Grasso, another mayor that was in the race, was a distant second with 13,693.
Riverside-Brookfield grad and Glen Ellyn resident Niki Conforti had 5,808, Oak Lawn’s Catherine O’Shea had 5,001, Orland Park’s Scott Kaspar had 3,465 and Robert Cruz 2,892 to round out the field.
Pekau has been involved in three elections in his career. He defeated incumbent Dan McLaughlin, who served 28 years as Orland Park’s mayor, in 2017 and beat McLaughlin again in a rematch in 2021. Now, Tuesday’s triumph in a district that includes several southern and western suburbs.
“There’s still another election to go and that’s what we’re going to focus on,” Pekau said. “The team worked hard and a lot of volunteers that we had just shows the grassroots support. We’re going to carry that support into November.”
During his time running Orland Park, Pekau has been outspoken about Gov. JB Pritzker’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as the governor shut down businesses, forced many schools to go remote and pressured the Illinois High School Association to shut down athletics.
He has also called out Foxx a number of times for leniency on felons.
Pekau served in the Air Force as an instructor weapons system officer with 150 combat hours in Southern Iraq. Then he became a small businessman, founding GroundsKeeper Landscape Care and co-founding Fahrenheit Consulting.
He notes the lower crime in his town since he took over in 2017 and has enjoyed accolades of Orland being one of the safest and best towns to live in by independent sources.
Pekau said that if he wins the seat in November, he would not try to hold two political jobs and would give up his position at Orland Park mayor.
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