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Mongo says ‘fat lady has sung’ on his Romeoville mayoral bid

Romeoville mayor John Noak holds his wife Jennifer's hbefore declaring victory his party Brunswick Zone XL electinight Tuesday April 9

Romeoville mayor John Noak holds his wife Jennifer's hand before declaring victory at his party at Brunswick Zone XL on election night Tuesday, April 9, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 11, 2013 6:18AM

ROMEOVILLE — Chicago Bears great Steve “Mongo” McMichael made a living out of sacking NFL quarterbacks, but on Tuesday he fell short of completing a sack of a different sort.

In one of Will County’s most closely watched races on Tuesday, McMichael, a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX championship team, tried to unseat Romeoville Mayor John Noak. But, Noak put up a strong defense of his own.

“It seems as if the fat lady has sung and this one has been lost,” McMichael, dressed in all black and wearing an American flag pin in his lapel, told a crowd of supporters at Mongo McMichaels.

With 16 of 16 precincts reporting, Noak was ahead with 62 percent of the vote to McMichael’s 38 percent. It was a difference of 1,104 votes, according to unofficial results.

Noak, who had been mayor since 2008, said he believed voters would support him in the race.

“I have always believed that the people knew what was best for our community,” Noak said. “They knew the issues and the issues were what was most important to them. I was never worried.”

For a race that had its contentious moments, both candidates were gracious once the results were in.

McMichael, 55, congratulated the 39-year-old Noak for running a good campaign and said that after wading into the political arena for the first time, “Boy, did I learn a lesson.” Nevertheless, McMichael said he planned to stay in the village and raise his daughter — and keep score.

Noak made a lot of promises to the voters, McMichael added, ones that he intended to make sure were fulfilled.

McMichael fan Thomas Woods of Orland Park said he was disappointed the former Bear didn’t win.

“It was interesting that he wanted to run in the first place,” he said. “I think it was big of him to step up. It seemed like it was out of his career focus, but he took it seriously.”

While Woods was polishing off a burger and fries and rooting for McMichael, he also kept an eye on the Blackhawks game on another TV screen. So he still had hope for a win Tuesday night.

“It’s one to nothing Hawks with 15 minutes left in the first,” he said.

The mayoral race was contentious from the start between McMichael and Noak. On the day McMichael filed his nominating petitions in December, Village Trustee Ken Griffin accused McMichael of violating state campaign laws on paperwork, fundraising and expenses — a charge that was later dismissed by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

McMichael said he got the idea to run for office while talking to village residents and thinking about what kind of schools his 5-year-old daughter would be headed to when she enrolls in kindergarten.

McMichael has lived in a rented apartment in the village since April of last year, long enough to qualify for Tuesday’s election. He had attempted to buy a home in the village a year ago, but his campaign attorney Lisa Marie Raucci said a political opponent “thwarted” the deal at the last minute.

One of the biggest debates between the two candidates was the lack of debates between the two candidates. McMichael contended that one was “a dog and pony show” organized by an ally of the mayor. He said he could not make the other because of a previous engagement.

Instead, McMichael scheduled his own one-man forum Saturday at his restaurant. McMichael said he had walking pneumonia the day of a Grand Haven forum. But Noak noted that McMichael “made a miraculous recovery” the next night to attend a well-publicized event in which former Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka endorsed him.

The two men also squabbled over McMichael’s ESPN radio job co-hosting a Bears pre-game show. Noak asked for “equal time” on air, but he said ESPN had already decided to let McMichael go.

McMichael said he would use his celebrity to help the village and to raise money for the school district. Noak touted his accomplishments as mayor including property tax rebates, business growth and future development of the Metra station in the village.

McMichael played in the NFL from 1980 to 1994, including a stint with the Bears from 1981 to 1993 when he was a starting defensive tackle on the Bears team that won Super Bowl XX in January 1986.

Vote totals aren’t official until after the April 30 canvas, where last-minute absentee, provisional and grace period votes are tabulated, which could change close races. Typically, those votes don’t change races where victory margins are greater.

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