Pekau seeks Orland Park mayorship
Veteran and business owner Keith Pekau says he is running for Orland Park mayor because he feels a strong connection to this community and its citizens.
“I care about the community that I grew up in,” Pekau told the Will County Gazette. “I have a broad set of experiences that will be an asset to the position."
Prior to joining the U.S. Air Force in 1983, Pekau was a student at Carl Sandburg High School, where he was active player in baseball, basketball and football. After his time in the military, he and his wife returned to Orland Park.
"We wanted to raise our children and [I] gave back to the community by coaching other children in the OYA and Magic baseball and basketball programs,” he said.
In Orland Park, Pekau sees a definite need to address the debt problem within the city.
“In 1983 there was zero debt and at the beginning of 1998 there was $13.6 million in long-term debt. This is unsustainable,” Pekau said.
He explained that the current voting board has been unacceptable, “not having a single dissenting vote on one issue in the last two years, including giving the mayor a pay raise to $150,000 that spikes his pension from $25,000 to over $100,000 if elected to one more term.”
The issue of raising the mayor’s pay has been a discussion among many in the city. The vote was passed to raise the salary last year, which will take effect in May of this year.
Pekau confirmed he thought this raise was severely unacceptable. Saying this was a pension play, he noted, “This form of government was passed by referendum in the 1980s and the mayor’s pay raise and change to a full-time position is an attempt to circumvent the will of the people.”
Pekau continued to speak critically about the Orland Park leadership.
“Our current mayor has been in office for 24 years and has lost sight of our small-town values choosing to run Orland Park as if it were the city of Chicago,” Pekau said.
Pekau does not agree with the way Daniel McLaughlin has run the city budget, nor addressed the debt problem.
The qualities Pekau says he brings to the city are education, leadership experience and growth strategies.
A graduate from Arizona State University, Pekau led many missions while in the U.S. Air Force and was the chief of wing training while on active duty.
“In 2003, I decided to put my life savings into a local tree service I bought that had two trucks and five employees and rented a semi-trailer in Lemont.” From there, he began own landscaping business. Also noted in his experience is work at two consulting firms, where he learned successful business strategies.
Pekau is ready and willing to take this position.
“I know what it means to put everything at risk to build a business," Pekau said. "I understand the challenges businesses face to grow and the importance of those businesses to its employees and community.”
Overall, Pekau made clear he wants to serve his citizens and community.
“My service in the Air Force shaped me in many ways and the core values of the Air Force from 25 years ago, remain important to me today,” he said.