Cook County, 9th District Commissioner (1994-)
Elmwood Park, Village President (1989-2013)
First elected at the age of 20 to his hometown's school board, Republican Peter Silvestri steadily built his political bonafides in conservative West Suburban Cook County. Then, with the national GOP tidal wave of 1994, Silvestri won a surprise victory over incumbent Democrat Cook County Commissioner Mario Domino, helping to cement a Republican base in Western Cook County. (Not incidentally, much of Silvestri's district overlapped with then-Cong. Dan Rostenkowski, who was also ousted in 1994).
From 1989 until 2013, Silvestri served as Elmwood Park Village President (colloquially known as Mayor), meaning he held holding both county and village positions for close to two decades. Before entering politics, he worked as Associate Director of the Illinois Department of Labor during both the James Thompson and Jim Edgar administrations from 1984 to 1994, after serving at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Since his election to the board, Silvestri has prided himself on being “one of the hardest-working commissioners”, focused on controlling county spending and building bridges with democrats on the Board (garnering him the nickname “Saint Francis”, according to the Chicago Tribune), and in turn, receiving endorsements from democrats like Toni Preckwinkle, Jesse White, and Mike Quigley. Silvestri chairs the Zoning Committee and the Finance Subcommittee on Litigation. Since the start of Preckwinkle’s administration, Silvestri has voted with the president 73% of the time (more than some Democrats and all of his Republican colleagues).
That effort to streamline County government somewhat backfired in 2016, when he proposed asking the state to make the position of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court an appointed, rather than elected one. Silvestri withdrew the proposal after accusations from supporters of current Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown that the move was racist.
Silvestri’s all-time top donors include Plaza Bank and the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund. Stephens, who passed away in 2006, was the former Mayor of Rosemont and Leyden Township GOP Committeeman. Stephens and Silvestri partnered with Elmwood Park Village President and former state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, and lobbyist Jack Dorgan, to exert more influence in the region and Springfield. Both Stephens and Saviano were plagued by (and denied) mob ties brought up during a failed casino construction bid.
Silvestri is a member of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and is of counsel for law firm Schain, Banks, Kenny & Schwartz, where he practices in the areas of government approvals, zoning, real estate and municipal law. Silvestri is a first generation Italian-American. He has one child, a son named Christian.
- BA, Political Science, DePaul University
- JD, DePaul University College of Law
Important Political Events
- 1977, Elected to Elmwood Park Community School Board District 401
- 1989, Elected Village President of Elmwood Park, replacing Richard Torpe
- 1994, Elected Cook County Commissioner, defeating Democrat Mario Domico
- 2013, Retired Village President of Elmwood Park, replaced by Skip Saviano