Mother and son running for same political seats in Cook County - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Mother and son running for same political seats in Cook County

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

"All in the family" is nothing new in Illinois politics.

FOX 32 News has learned that two of the candidates for a Cook County race are mother and son, something neither person seems anxious to talk about.

Frank Gardner, 24, is one of ten democratic candidates on the primary ballot running for three open seats on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. This district is the $1.5 billion agency that treats wastewater in Cook County.

You'll also see the name Kathleen Mary O'Reilley, who lives at the same house as Gardner in River Forest.

FOX 32 News asked Gardner if his mother was a candidate as well.

"Well, uh, look…I'm happy to speak about my candidacy. Now's not a good time," said Gardner.

Both Gardner's and his mother's statement of candidacy bear the same handwriting, and were filed the exact same minute on the same day last November.

Nowhere on Gardner's campaign website, Facebook page, his mother's Facebook page or on a pair of candidate questionnaires did FOX 32 News find any mention of the mother-son relationship. Although, Gardner does write that he's opposed to political hiring.

Brendan Houlihan is one of the other democrats in the race. When asked if he knew Gardner and O'Reilley were mother and son, he responded, "I heard rumors of it."

He says that Gardner and O'Reilley, which is Mrs. Gardner's maiden name, never said anything about their relationship and didn't seem particularly close at candidate forums.

"Voters want people who are transparent. They don't want politics as usual. They want to know the people on the ballot, who they are and where they come from," Houlihan said.

FOX 32 News asked why it seemed nobody knew that Gardner and his mother were both in the race. Gardner answered, "Well, you'll have to speak to her about her own candidacy. I'm afraid now's not a good time."

O'Reilley works at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, getting paid $35,000 a year as Kathleen Gardner. However, on her driver's license her name is Kathleen O'Reilley Gardner. A spokesman said she couldn't talk because she was on duty.

"I think it would be more honest and more transparent for the mother to use her real name so that people could see that they are both actually Gardner's," said David Melton of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

There's nothing illegal about family members running for the same position. Plus, it's obvious why they both want it. The job pays $70,000 a year, comes with a free car and a staff of three people to hire.

When Gardner was asked why he's running and to discuss the issues, he said, "Perhaps another time." He then closed the door.

O'Reilley's husband and Gardner's father is also named Frank Gardner. He's a retired lawyer and board member at the Water Reclamation District from which he draws two pensions totaling $158,000 a year.

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