Cicero candidate says she was assaulted, blames politics - New York News

Cicero candidate says she was assaulted, blames politics

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CICERO, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A candidate for Cicero town collector aligned with an opponent of Town President Larry Dominick said Sunday that she was assaulted while campaigning and that she suspects the attack was politically motivated.

Sharon Starzyk said she was struck on the back of the head while visiting homes Friday night in the 1600 to 1800 block of 47th Court. She received treatment at Rush Oak Park Hospital for blunt head trauma, and Starczyk said she reported the incident to police.

By the time she and town president candidate Juan Ochoa met reporters Sunday afternoon, Starzyk, 52, still was sporting a gash on the back of her head and swelling on the right side of her face.

"I felt it in the back of my head, hard. It was not a hand," she said. Starzyk said a young Hispanic male hit her with an unknown object as she walked down the street toward her car.

Starzyk said she was wearing an Ochoa campaign button and carrying fliers when the man approached her and asked for cigarettes. Starzyk said she told him no and that she felt the blow after she passed him.

She said she thought others may have been with the man. Nothing of a political nature was uttered and Starzyk said she initially thought the attack was random, but now thinks otherwise. "I felt that they were too prepared for something like this," she said.

Ochoa said the attack is consistent with the "thuggery" and intimidation tactics he has seen from Dominick's forces. He said a campaign volunteer has had his tires slashed, a police car monitors his campaign activities and someone in a municipal vehicle has taken photos of his wife and child.

A spokesman for Dominick, Ray Hanania, said the Ochoa side is exploiting the incident for politics. "Larry Dominick would never condone any violence against anyone by anyone. He has made public safety a cornerstone of his administration," Hanania said.

He said Ochoa has relied on the Latin Kings street gang for campaign supporters, a charge Ochoa called "a complete and utter lie."

Ochoa and Starzyk oppose a Dominick-led slate in the Feb. 26 election.

"People are ready for a change," Ochoa said. "They are not as uninformed as Larry Dominick would like them to be."

Asked if he believes the town president was behind the attack, Ochoa said, "I believe that given his history and the thuggery that exists around here, I wouldn't put it past him."

In 2011, the Town of Cicero settled a sexual harassment lawsuit Starzyk filed for $500,000. She sued him after she was fired from her job running the town's animal shelter.

Dominick denied the harassment but said in a deposition he had sexual contact with Starzyk, something she has denied.

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