Backed by supporters, Park Ridge mayoral candidates start race
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:11AM
PARK RIDGE — With their petitions filed and their names — barring any challenges — set to appear on the April 9 ballot, Park Ridge’s mayoral candidates are officially stepping into campaign season.
Mayor David Schmidt, looking to be elected to a second term, is facing challenger and political newcomer Larry Ryles in the race. Both are receiving support in their campaigns from a number of Park Ridge citizens, many of whom assisted the candidates in obtaining the 440 to 704 required signatures needed to get their names on the ballot.
A review of the candidates’ petitions, filed with City Clerk Betty Henneman on Dec. 17, shows Schmidt collected several pages of his own signatures, but a team of 35 supporters assisted him, including notable names like local philanthropist Millie O’Brien, recent Republican State House candidate Susan Sweeney; one-time 1st Ward aldermanic candidate Alana Warren; and Ellen Upton, a current member of the Park Ridge Appearance Commission.
Schmidt said his campaign chairwoman is Gerry Butler, widow of the late Marty Butler who served 18 years as Park Ridge’s mayor.
“She is more than a figurehead; she is a key advisor,” Schmidt said. “She has been through campaigns before and she’s a veteran. I value her advice a lot.”
Ryles, who, according to his petitions, collected the majority of his own signatures, has received backing from former Park Ridge mayor Howard Frimark whom Schmidt defeated in 2009. Frimark collected 118 signatures for Ryles’ nominating petitions and Ryles credited him with providing political advice.
“We’re happy to have his help and his support,” Ryles said, explaining that Frimark reached out to assist after Ryles contacted him over the summer, asking if he was considering a mayoral run himself.
“He said he appreciated what I stand for and wanted to offer his advice and his support,” Ryles said.
Schmidt called Frimark “old news” and said he is not concerned that his former political foe is backing his current challenger.
“I don’t see how he would be an asset to anyone’s campaign because the voters rejected him four years ago,” Schmidt said.
Ryles also received assistance in circulating his petitions from 13 Park Ridge citizens, including Ralph Cincinelli, a member of the Park Ridge Police Chief’s Advisory Task Force who has seen his recommendations for a police storage building vetoed twice by Schmidt.
Ryles said he has also received support from former aldermen, including Jim Allegretti who represented the 4th Ward for six years. Ryles declined to name the other supporters.
“We have wrapped our arms around them and said, ‘We really appreciate it,’” Ryles stated.