Robert Streit, who will have tied the longest period of service as a Trustee in Oak Lawn history, has been defeated by newcomer Paul Mallo, who ran with a simple message of “It’s time”.
While Mallo ran a simple campaign devoid of issues, it was a relatively clean campaign despite his association with Trustee Tom Phelan and the Sandra Bury Machine. Only 119 votes separate the two candidates but late last night, the writing was on the wall for Streit’s tenure.
Streit, the ultimate outsider, survived 28 years with four mayors, armies of patronage workers from Chicago, organized political parties and sometimes obscene insider donations in the past. This time, Mallo presented himself as a new up and coming community member and omitted his connections to the majority.
Over the year’s Streit has operated the only constituent service office in the village using his own funds to pay for staff and rent. Mallo had indicated during the campaign that he would not be having a constituent office.
Streit had used his political muscle to push for the most expansive repaving of the streets in Oak Lawn and had spearheaded early negotiations for the water main expansion. He was also the thorn in various Mayors’ sides. Almost single-handedly, he pushed a referendum in 1995 to stop a massive low income housing development in the center of town.
In his first election, he was one of the first candidates to support closing the bars at 2 a.m. while some opponents favored the then later 4 a.m. hours. He also sponsored the first resolution to prohibit the village from sending garbage to the proposed Robbins Incinerator. It was that resolution that was copied throughout the suburbs and eventually led to the late State Representative Maureen Murphy changing the law to take incentives away from polluting incinerators.
Despite his many successes, Streit was plagued with the reality of a town that is on the downside, with declining interest in the community and a declining interest in voting. Streit will continue to serve until May when Mallo is sworn in after the votes are certified.