Nicole Milovich Walters (right) has a laugh while campaigning on April 4. She is unofficially the new mayor of Palos Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Nicole Milovich Walters (right) has a laugh while campaigning on April 4. She is unofficially the new mayor of Palos Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Milovich-Walters wins heavily contested Palos Park mayor’s race

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McCARTHY

Ronette Leal McCarthy talks with a voter at the Palos Park Recreation Center on April 4.

By Jeff Vorva

Nicole Milovich-Walters woke up on Election Day at 4:50 a.m.

“I was as nervous as anything,” she said. “I’m not one to count my chickens before they are hatched. I like to stay real and stay in the moment.”

It took a long time for that nervousness to go away on April 4. Roughly 16 hours later the chickens were finally hatched and she finally rejoiced that she unofficially won the job as mayor of Palos Park.

According to the Cook County Clerk’s office, Milovich-Walters beat out Ronette Leal McCarthy 834-705. The results will not be official until they are certified by Cook County in the coming weeks.

If the outcome holds up, Milovich-Walters, a 45-year-old lawyer, will take over for John Mahoney, who is retiring after 16 years of banging the gavel. She has been a commissioner on the village council for 16 years.

“Until all of the precincts came in fully at 100 percent I didn’t want to celebrate or believe it,” she said. “But yeah, it was a great feeling. I’m surrounded by so many new friends that have jumped into help and old friends who jumped into help to really work together for our community and what we believe is the best interest of our village.”

At times, this campaign got nasty. McCarthy and some of her supporters were against a Feb. 27 council decision to allow Wu’s House restaurant added parking space, which helped set off some bad blood between the candidates.

“The village has never seen anything like this, Milovich-Walters said. “I wasn’t expecting anything like this sort of campaign. But we worked hard as a group of Palos Parkers that believed in the same vision for Palos Park.”

A source close to the McCarthy campaign said that she will not comment on the election until all the votes are counted.

The source also said the McCarthy camp believes that the slate of unopposed commissioners helped carry her to the victory and the village will remain divided.

Commissioners Dan Polk, G. Darryl Reed and Mike Wade were unopposed and will be back. Rebecca Petan, who previously served on the Palos Park Library Board, was also unopposed and will take Milovich-Walters’ spot on the council.

The two candidates differed on quite a few things, but there was agreement that getting at least 1,539 residents to vote was impressive.

“It was a great turnout as far as I’m concerned,” Milovich-Walters said. “It was exciting to see so many people participate in the election process. There were years we had 300 votes. But to have this many people come out – it’s great. We’re reaching people and they want to be involved so it’s fantastic.”

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