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Cantore wins GOP nomination for DuPage forest president

Joseph Cantore said Tuesday he hopes to attract even more people, especially seniors, to DuPage County Forest Preserve.

Cantore easily won the Republican nomination for Forest Preserve Board president on Tuesday, setting himself up to replace longtime President D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr., who is stepping down after 20 years. No Democrat filed in the race.

“Our seniors are a huge, untapped wealth of experience,” he said.

Cantore, 42, said campaigning for a countywide office was interesting because he heard “how much people love the forest preserve . . . and how important the forest preserves are to people’s quality of life.”

With all but three precincts counted, unofficial results showed Cantore with 52,240 votes or 64 percent to fellow board commissioner Mary Lou Wehrli’s 28,777 votes, or 36 percent.

Cantore said he looks forward to partnerships between the forest preserve district and municipalities to develop trails, river walks or other amenities.

Fifteen to 20 years ago, the district was acquiring large tracts of land, Cantore said. In the 11 years he has been on the board, the district added 1,500 acres.

But those large tracts of land are not available anymore. Instead the district is buying smaller pieces that enhance the property it already owns to provide things such as trail connections.

“We want to concentrate on making the land we have as good as we can.”

Cantore, who lives in Oak Brook with his wife and infant son, was elected to the Forest Preserve Board in 2002. He works in real estate management, along with his work on the commission, for which he is paid $80,710 in salary and benefits. As president, he would make substantially more. Pierotti’s salary and benefits total more than $149,500.

Cantore previously served for four years on the Oakbrook Terrace City Council.

A lifelong Naperville resident, Wehrli, 61, joined the board in 2012, after filling a wide variety of local and regional positions, including six years on the Naperville Park Board, from 1999 to 2005. She also served as co-chairman of DuPage Neighbors for Open Space, Clean Water and Clean Air, where she worked in 2006 to successfully promote the district’s $68 million referendum.

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