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1st Filam to win Illinois assembly seat

austriaco-elected.gif CHICAGO – Aurora Abella Austriaco, a Filipino American, made history in here by becoming the first Asian American to be elected to the state legislature.
What made her success even sweeter is that this 43-year-old lawyer unseated an incumbent Republican state representative who served the district for eight terms by winning 59% of the votes cast. She was earlier wrongly reported as having lost the election.
In her 17 years as a real estate litigation attorney and as a certified mediator, Austriaco has devoted herself to serving the children, elderly, women and minority population of the state.
“My life experiences have prepared me to tackle any challenge with confidence and determination. I am as committed to being a strong public servant as I was in working hard to graduate college and law school after coming to America,” Austriaco wrote in an essay published by the Chicago Tribune. Austriaco was born in the Philippines to a family of eight, and as such she understands the importance of having a good education, of working hard and in being accountable.
“I have overcome many challenges in my life, most significantly immigrating to America when I was 18. Entering a new culture with no connections and only my parents and brothers and sisters, who were new to America, as well, overcoming barriers was difficult but I worked hard to persevere,” Austriaco wrote further.
She realized her dream of being a lawyer by working her way through law school, working during the day and going to school at night. Once finished with her law degree, she set out to fulfill her public spirit.
“If it were not for her parents’ courageous decision to immigrate to the US, Aurora would not have her life as a loving wife and mother of two, and as a successful lawyer,” the website added.
Austriaco currently serves as Secretary of the Chicago Bar Association and concurrently serves on the board of the Chicago Bar Foundation. She serves as Vice-President of the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) and served as the first female and minority President of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers’ Association (IRELA), an organization of approximately 1,200 real estate lawyers throughout Illinois.
She is a founding board member of the Filipino American Bar Association, past board member and current member of the Asian American Bar Association and the ISBA Real Estate Section Council. Aurora also served as board member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI) and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc., a bar related title insurance company. Austriaco is the first female minority elected to the ATG board.
In addition to her bar association involvement, Aurora is also active in the community.
She is currently serving her sixth term as Chair of the Cook County States Attorneys Asian Advisory Council and her ninth year as Commissioner for the Cook County Human Rights Commission. She also serves as a Commissioner for the Park Ridge Building and Zoning Commission. Aurora recently served as President of the Asian American Institute and was elected to the Board of Governors of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Illinois.
She is a member of the Governors’ Asian Advisory Council, the Attorney General Asian Advisory Council and Illinois State Treasurer’s Asian Advisory Council. Aurora was a 2004 Fellow of the Leadership of Greater Chicago. She served as a member of the Filipino American Voters League from 1996-98 and as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Chicago.
Austriaco is married to Dr. Jerome Austriaco and they have two daughters, Danielle and Isabelle. As a teenager and freshman student at Miriam College, she along with her sisters came to Chicago to join her parents here.

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8 Responses to 1st Filam to win Illinois assembly seat

  1. Where did you get your information – from Aurora or her buddy Rod Blagojevich? Despite Aurora and her firm’s longtime six-figure pay to play political contributions to Blago, the public saw through her facade and she was trounced in the election. Not even the democrats voted for her. She has not been seen in public since the election. Next step is for the feds to close in on her and arrest her fand her law firm cohorts or their pay to play politics and long time association with Blagojevich. Bet Aurora put in a financial bid for the IL senate seat. Aurora is an embarassment to the filipino community.

  2. Park Ridge Neighbor

    How pathetic. She lost by a landslide, and got only 38% of the vote in her own hometown. And now she puts out a false press release to the filipino community. How much of an ego trip is Aurora on giving false information to newspapers and unwilling to admit defeat? Maybe she thinks you all are stupid and will not find out the truth. She gave tons of money to Blagojevich, which explains how an idiot like her has held so many positions: she paid to play. Let’s see if she will have enough to afford bail for when she goes to jail with Blagojevich.

  3. Austriaco is a Blago player. Expect an arrest soon.

  4. Here’s the local take on Austriaco’s joke of a campaign:


    Victory, it is said, has a thousand fathers. Defeat, however, is akin to an immaculate conception: The architects promptly scatter with the wind, intent on avoiding any DNA testing.

    Now that Aurora Austriaco, the much-hyped Filipina Democratic candidate for state representative in the northwest suburban 65th Illinois House District, has been thumped by incumbent Republican Rosemary Mulligan, blame takers and strategy makers are nowhere to be found. In a race that Austriaco — arguably this election’s poster child for “change” — was favored to win and in which the Democrats spent $500,000, Mulligan triumphed with 54.6 percent of the vote.

    But finger pointers, second guessers, critics and smug Republicans are legion and loquacious. Austriaco, they sneer, was “clueless,” “superficial,” “a lightweight” and “just another pretty face.”

    The district encompasses Maine Township (Park Ridge and Des Plaines), all of Rosemont, slices of Elk Grove, Mount Prospect and Norridge, and six precincts in the 41st Ward. In Maine Township, where Barack Obama won by 31,638-21,228, with 58.9 percent of the vote, Austriaco lost the township by a decisive 14,755-10,766, getting 42.2 percent of the vote and losing by a margin of 3,989 votes. Mulligan won Norridge by 218 votes and Rosemont by 187 votes, while Austriaco won Chicago by 407 votes and Elk Grove by 378 votes.

    “I did well, and (my vote) indicates that she is not serving the district well,” protested Austriaco, who lost districtwide by 21,307-17,698, a margin of 3,609 votes. Say what? Austriaco, who tied herself closely to Obama, did worse than the 2000 Democratic candidate, Mary Beth Tighe, who tied herself closely to Al Gore. Tighe lost to Mulligan by 17,448-16,119, a margin of 1,329 votes and with 48 percent of the vote. Despite a toxic anti-Republican environment for this year’s election, Mulligan increased her vote by 3,859 over 2000 while the Democratic House vote dipped by 1,579. Message to Austriaco: You’re clueless.

    “She just wasn’t a good candidate,” complained an irritated Mulligan. “She was on an ego trip. She ran a nasty, negative campaign. She had no record of community service.”

    Mulligan, age 67, is in the twilight of her career, having first been elected in 1992. She disdains the energetic tactics of state Senator Dan Kotowski (D-33), who says he spends 4 hours a day knocking on doors and talking to residents of the district. She is not especially popular with the district’s dwindling contingent of conservative Republicans, who consider her a RINO — Republican In Name Only. But she keeps winning. Here’s why:

    First, she never equivocates on the issue that launched and has sustained her career: support for abortion rights. Mulligan defeated the General Assembly’s most vitriolic abortion foe, Penny Pullen, in a vicious 1992 primary, clearly demonstrating that opposition to abortion was receding, even in a conservative area such as Park Ridge.

    Mulligan consistently votes against any bill that imposes any restriction on choice, and Personal PAC, the powerful Illinois pro-abortion rights political action committee, with a policy of backing trusted incumbents over untested challengers, exerts itself mightily for Mulligan. The group has a vast mailing list of pro-choice voters, donors and workers. They send out regular e-mails, newsletters and fund-raising solicitations, and they don’t hesitate to crank out attack pieces to protect their incumbents, regardless of party, even if the challenger, like Austriaco, also is pro-choice. Their attitude is like that of witness protection: They don’t want to lose anybody, any time, anywhere.

    The veterans of the long ago Pullen-Mulligan “abortion wars” are mostly retired, and abortion is not now a salient issue, but for about a third of the district’s voters, abortion rights are an important issue. Personal PAC makes sure they don’t forget, and Mulligan remains an icon. “That’s her base,” said Republican Committeeman Mark Thompson of pro-choice voters. “As long as they’re with her, she can’t be beat.”

    According to Austriaco, Personal PAC paid for four districtwide mailings, two endorsing Mulligan and Kotowski and two highlighting the joint sponsorship of bills by Mulligan and Obama and their similar voting records in Springfield.

    Second, Mulligan is popular and respected by community activists and social workers. She is the ranking Republican spokeswoman on the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee, which provides funding for state and local social service agencies. Mulligan regularly interacts with municipal officials, school administrators, community organizations, park boards, seniors’ groups and social agencies. The members of that entire socioeconomic stratum, composed of individuals who rely on government funding for their livelihood, are generally disinclined to vote for a Republican, but they worship Mulligan.

    Third, Mulligan, of Des Plaines, has her own organization, consisting of people who work only for her. She said she made 5,000 phone calls the last weekend before the election. While Mulligan’s geographic base is Des Plaines, her most fervent support comes from Park Ridge, which is why the Democrats ran Park Ridge women against her in 2000, 2002 and 2008. Thus far, all have been lightweights, and all faltered in Park Ridge.

    And fourth, Mulligan defined Austriaco negatively before Austriaco defined herself positively — a fatal mistake for the challenger. Mulligan was a top priority of Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross, and the party poured nearly $300,000 into direct mail.

    A torrent of negative mailings tied Austriaco to beleaguered Governor Rod Blagojevich, alleging that her law firm received $1.46 million in state contracts after donating more than $109,496 since 2002 to Blagojevich. Austriaco denied any involvement in “pay-to-play” reciprocity and said that other attorneys in the firm handled the state contracts, which involved guardianships and mental health issues, but the charges severely damaged her “change” argument.

    Austriaco retaliated with mailers attacking Mulligan’s voting record and ripping her for opposing Internet filters on public access computers, funding to test water for toxic contaminants and the Democrats’ “middle class tax cut.” Austriaco also claimed that Mulligan “took money from special interests” and that she has an “anti-environmental voting record.”

    It mattered not. Any contest featuring an incumbent is a referendum on that incumbent. Mulligan’s base of support has become so wide and so deep over the years and consists of so many non-Republicans that Austriaco had an impossible task. She had to both unsell Mulligan, who had no personal scandals and who had a reputation as a thoughtful, socially liberal and fiscally conservative legislator, and sell herself.

    A couple of dubious votes did not do it. Nor did being a Republican in a horrendous Republican year. But Mulligan caught a break when Democratic tracking polls in mid-October confirmed that Austriaco was making no headway and would lose. Instead of flooding the district with workers, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan shifted his focus to the open 66th District seat (Elk Grove, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights), and Austriaco’s patchy organization had to cover the district’s 100 precincts.

    In the 33rd Illinois Senate District race, Kotowski, who won in 2006 by just 1,434 votes, swamped Republican Mike Sweeney by 48,058-32,136, getting 59.9 percent of the vote. The district includes the 65th and 66th House districts. Kotowski trounced Sweeney in Maine Township by 17,035-10,716, with 61.4 percent of the vote, which means that something like 6,000 Kotowski voters didn’t punch for Austriaco and that about 4,000 Kotowski voters did punch for Mulligan.

    There are two lessons to be drawn:

    First, a “Kotowski Plan” campaign is viable only in a vacuum. Kotowski began walking precincts in April of 2005, continued through the election, and beat an appointed Republican incumbent, Cheryl Axley, who had no base and no name recognition. Kotowski won votes simply by showing up, following up, and saying little. If Kotowski had a foe of Mulligan’s caliber, he would have lost. Austriaco tried the “Kotowski Plan,” but her mere presence and her “pretty face” were a woefully insufficient incentive to persuade voters to oust their iconic incumbent.

    Second, the Republican base is slowly collapsing in Maine Township. Al Gore beat George Bush in 2000 by 24,729-23,196, with 51.5 percent of the vote, and John Kerry beat George Bush in 2004 by 28,746-24,926, with 53.5 percent of the vote. Obama beat John McCain by 31,638-21,338, getting 58.9 percent of the vote. Compared to 2000, the Democratic vote is up by 6,909 and the Republican vote is down by 1,858.

    Plus, there is no Republican bench. If Mulligan retires, there is no obvious successor. Years of squabbling between moderates, led by Thompson, and conservatives, behind township road commissioner Bob Provenzano, has decimated the party. There is no longer any precinct operation.

    “I don’t know if I’ll run for re-election,” Mulligan said. She added that with Republicans now in a 70-48 House minority, she has to assess “how effective I can be” in Springfield. Mulligan is not sanguine about her future or the Republicans’ if they don’t win the Illinois governorship in 2010 and beef up their legislative minorities.

    Mulligan predicted that if Democrats control the 2011 redistricting, they will “protect Kotowski” and “put the 41st Ward” into his Senate district — and into her House district. “That would be tough to win,” she acknowledged.

    E-mail to Russ@russstewart.com or visit his website at http://www.russstewart.com

  5. I just heard that she got fired from her law firm. Maybe she and Blago can open their own office together now.

  6. Disgusted with corrupt Aurora Austriaco

    Now she is connected with Roland Burris as well. Where does Aurora Austriaco’s corruption and pay to play end? Bet she ends up as a judge or something as a reward for her pay to play politics. So much for merit selection.

    Austriaco Leads 65th Dist. Money Race

    Democratic challenger Aurora Austriaco is outdistancing her 65th Legislative Dist. Republican opponent, incumbent State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, in the race for campaign donations. They are squaring off in the Nov. 4 general election. State campaign donation records show that as of the last reporting period that ended June 30, Austriaco had accumulated $80,037.55 in campaign contributions and Mulligan $60,359.61. Both candidates had sizable sums of cash on hand at the beginning of the reporting period which was Jan. 1, 2008. Mulligan’s cash on that date was $36,786 and Austriaco’s $50,264. They will both accumulate more money as election day nears.

    The 65th Dist. includes large portions of Des Plaines and Park Ridge and a small part of southern Mt. Prospect. Mulligan, a moderate Republican, has been in office for many years. She has built up a reputation as an independent thinker who has a strong interest in health-related issues. She resides in Des Plaines.

    Austriaco is an attorney and lives with her family in Park Ridge. She ran unsuccessfully for Maine Township office a few years ago and during that campaign earned a reputation as thoughtful and intelligent.

    Among the contributors to Austriaco’s campaign during the six month reporting period are, former Ilinois Attorney General Roland Burris, $500; former Illinois Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, $250; numerous Illinois law firms; Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, $500; and Park Ridge activist and former alderman James Radamacher, $300. Other “transfers in” to her campaign include Citizens for Richard A. Devine, $5,000; Friends of Anita Alvarez, $250; Schakowsky for Congress, $500; and Maine Township Regular Democratic Organization, $2,000.

    Contributors to Mulligan’s campaign are, Des Plaines business owners Robert and Martha Atherton, $200; Des Plaines political activist Brian Burkross, $500; former Park Ridge alderman Mary Ann Irving and William Irving, $250; Park Ridge attorney Theresa Nuccio, $165; Maine Township High School Dist. 207 board member Sean Sullivan and Amy Sullivan, $2,350; Maine Township Republican Committeeman Mark Thompson, $250; various political action committees; and Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri, $200.

  7. Disgusted with corrupt Aurora Austriaco

    Here is the link to the above article re Roland Burris and Aurora Austriaco and their pay to play schemes:


  8. She is still trying to get elected

    Aurora Austriaco is still trying to make political connections. What you have not seen in the news is how she tried to get into the White House state dinner but was turned away at the gate. She is apparently now on the White House blacklist. Nice try, Aurora Burris-Blagojevich. Maybe you can launch your kid in a balloon to get over the White House fence next time.

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