Mayor Sandra Bury used Facebook to weigh in one of Oak Lawn’s Trustee races, resorting to unfounded allegations that propelled her 2013 election win while praising the controversial author of the “Phelan Hit List”.
Bury made it clear in the Facebook post that she is a fan of Tom Phelan, who has served her administration for the last four years as the chief political adviser after being on the village board for two previous consecutive terms. Bury called Phelan “an amazing Trustee” and despite the divisive nature of the “Phelan Hit List”, she called his candidacy “positive news for Oak Lawn”.
While citing the candidacy as positive news, Bury ironically proceeded to also trash her predecessor, Dave Heilmann, her current opponent, Robert Streit and two former Trustees Cindy Trautsch and Carol Quinlan. Bury said, “In 2013 the Village of Oak Lawn was being torn apart with strong allegations of corruption, insane legal fees, litigation, endless fighting and I felt like the community was losing ground while other nearby communities were thriving.” She left out the part that she made all of the charges that she said were tearing the village apart.
Her Facebook post holds Phelan blameless for any of the problems although Phelan famously commissioned two legal investigations, started a federal probe with false allegations, and hired family members to village jobs.
Bury, under the direction of Phelan, often attended village board meetings in 2012, raising questions and issues from the audience. In 2013 tempers went overboard at a canceled debate between Bury and Heilmann. At the time, Heilmann said, “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.”
Bury claimed that as she attended meetings in 2012, she had “no interest in running for office, but wanted to support positive change as strongly as I could. Oak Lawn residents deserved better from their government. I didn’t know the good guys from the bad guys then, but I was determined to learn.”
Immediately after winning the election Bury and her loyalists met with Tom Phelan and constructed what became known as the “Phelan Hit List”.
When several media outlets began asking about a “hit list”, Mayor Bury denied the existence of any such document and dismissed the idea. Then when she was caught, she basically said, “is that what you call a hit list?”
The Trustees were equally secretive denying that a list of any sort existed until months after it was published in the Oak Lawn Leaf. Then Trustee Alex Olejniczak admitted it was “good advice” provided by their political adviser Tom Phelan.