GOP hopefuls for Cook County District 15 seat took different paths to primary
The two Republican candidates contending for the opportunity to challenge Democratic 15th District Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison in November agree on many conservative economic principles but have taken different paths to the June 28 primary.
Kevin Ake of Elk Grove Village and Chuck Cerniglia of Hoffman Estates share a desire for lower taxes, an abandonment of COVID-19 restrictions and protection of businesses, but their histories and civic involvement in the 15th District differ significantly.
Cerniglia, a mail and shipping company owner, said he's been a member of the Schaumburg Township Republican Organization for the past six years and was slated by his colleagues to run. He said he'd already been considering a run for an office like school board member within the next couple of years.
"So this kind of came about in the last few months, and I looked at it," Cerniglia said. "And I thought this was an opportunity to do something and to contribute even further. I am a precinct captain, but this opportunity came up and I thought, 'Why don't I give it a shot?'"
Ake said his background as an Army veteran and a certified public accountant from Pennsylvania is among the reasons he feels well qualified for such public service. But his membership in the Elk Grove Historical Society and its anticipated 2025 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the elk in the community led him to think about the county and its forest preserves, in particular.
"I don't think that the current commissioners really care about preserving and enhancing and promoting our wonderful facilities," Ake said. "And that's the reason I was the first one to go before the Schaumburg Republicans and say I was going to run for this position."
The two candidates also spoke to their ability to be effective on a Cook County Board that currently has only two Republican commissioners among its 17 districts.
"I am more of an information man," Ake said.
"I would make sure that the taxpayers are well represented and I always have the 15th District at heart."
Cerniglia said he believes his business background and lifelong history in the 15th District would be assets, but that countywide changes would benefit his native district.
"I do believe that we have to start building a conservative coalition to really make the total changes in the entire county," he said. "So I think it's very important that we start growing, and this is the year to start."
Ake addressed his own conviction of two decades ago for a felony hate crime due to phone harassment based on sexual orientation against the female director of a YMCA. He was being evicted from there after trying to start a Bible study.
He said he believes he was wrongly persecuted but didn't deny the phone messages that were the basis of the charges.
Cerniglia said that while they are competitors, he was torn as to whether he thought Ake's conviction of 20 years ago was something voters should take into account.
The 15th District goes into Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, South Barrington, Palatine, Des Plaines and Elgin.