Challengers defeat incumbent Democratic Joliet Township elected officials

Caucus winners will be on ballot for April 6 election

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Joliet Township Supervisor Daniel Vera and nearly all other incumbent township elected officials were defeated at a Democratic caucus Tuesday night.

A new Democratic slate had enough support to oust the incumbents. The partisan process for township government is different from a traditional primary election in that voters need to physically gather in one space and vote for their candidates of choice.

The new slate was led by Angel Contreras, 34, who challenged Vera for township supervisor. The supervisor is the chief executive officer of the township.

Contreras said out of about 140 participants in the caucus, he and his slate held over 60% of the vote. The caucus took place at St. Joseph Park in Joliet.

He said he was grateful and humbled by the number of people who came out to support him and his team, especially during a pandemic. He also touted how diverse the slate was.

Alicia Morales, a member of the Joliet Junior College Board of Trustees, won the nomination for township clerk. Vincent Alessio was nominated for highway commissioner and the nominees for trustees were Ranisah Brown, Cesar Escutia, Karl Ferrell and Suzanna Ibarra.

The lone incumbent to win Tuesday was James Brenczewski, the longtime township assessor.

Contreras is also the vice president of the Joliet Township High School District 204 Board of Education and the chairman of the Housing Authority of Joliet Board of Commissioners.

Both Ibarra and Alessio ran for the Joliet City Council in the 2019 consolidated election.

The challenge to the longtime incumbents comes a year after Vera was accused of misusing government funds and employees. The Joliet Township Road District sued Vera and the township and said he used road district employees to work at property he owns in Joliet.

Vera denied any wrongdoing at the time. He did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Wednesday.

The winners of the Democratic caucus will be on the ballot for the April 6 consolidated election in the solidly blue township.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.