Mokena Mayor Joe Werner announced Tuesday that he will withdraw his nominating petitions from the ballot for the April 9 election.
Challenger and former village trustee Frank Fleischer will be the only mayoral candidate to appear on the ballot.
Werner cited personal reasons for his candidacy withdrawal, saying that he wants to focus his energy on his family, his business (Werner-Nugent Plumbing) and his job as the water department superintendent and plumbing inspector for Blue Island.
“It’s not an easy conclusion to come to,” said Werner. “My dedication, my passion to the village is undiminished.”
Werner, who has served two terms as mayor and one term as a village trustee, said he could not commit in full certainty to the amount of time necessary to responsibly fulfill the obligations required of the mayor.
He specified that his withdrawal was not due to medical or family-related complications and that he arrived at the decision to leave the mayoral race after a logical evaluation of his priorities.
Werner said that he initially decided to withdraw his candidacy during the first week of January, only a few days before the Mokena Friends and Neighbors Candidates, of which Fleischer is a member, filed objections to the candidate petitions of Werner and the incumbent trustees.
Several petitions, including Werner’s, were challenged on the grounds that they did not contain the minimum number of valid signatures from registered voters who live in Mokena. Werner said he wanted to show respect for the residents who signed his petitions by proving the legitimacy of their signatures and, as a result, delayed announcing his withdrawal. All petitions were deemed to be valid by an electoral board and all challenged incumbents were allowed to remain on the ballot.
Werner will officially withdraw his petitions on Jan. 30.
When he announced his withdrawal, Werner endorsed his fellow incumbents, trustees Joe Siwinski, John Mazzorana and George Metanias and Village Clerk Pat Patt.
“What’s really, really important is that the voters take a close look at who the trustee candidates are,” said Werner.
Whichever candidates are elected trustees will play a major role in determining what direction the village government takes in the coming years, Werner said.
Werner also commented on the sole mayoral candidate, former village trustee Frank Fleischer.
“I think he’s got the capability,” said Werner, who noted that Fleischer previously served on the board for 16 years. “I would think he’s got a good running start.”
Fleischer issued the following prepared statement in response to Werner’s withdrawal:
“On behalf of the Mokena Friends and Neighbors and our many supporters, we would like to thank Mayor Joe Werner for his many years of service to the residents of Mokena. We look forward to a smooth transition.”
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