Courtesy Matt Baron
For nearly 20 years, during his career as a newspaper reporter, Matt Baron covered numerous races for local political office.
But in December he resolved to go from chronicler to campaigner, filing the election documents necessary to appear on the April 9th ballot for trustee on the Oak Park Public Library Board. He is one of five candidates vying for four open seats.
One of the two incumbents in the race is Matthew Fruth, so Baron is asking voters to "welcome the new Matt."
For Baron, a 18-year resident of Oak Park, the decision to run for office was an outgrowth of his lifelong passion for learning and the positive impact that libraries play in fostering that in their respective communities.
Baron has had two experiences of Oak Park: the nine years before the birth of his twin children, Zachary and Maggie Rose, and the nine years that have passed since then. As two-month-old infants, they were present with Baron, his wife, Bridgett, and hundreds of others for the main library's dedication in October 2003.
"I always appreciated the library before then, but it's been gratifying to see my children grow up as the library has grown in its ambition to serve them as well as the whole gamut of the population," Baron says. "My overriding motive is to contribute to an organization that has done so much for me and my family."
In the case of the Oak Park Public Library, Baron, 44, is a vocal advocate of the quality services and resources that the award-winning institution consistently provides.
"Through its library, a community speaks volumes about its values and priorities. I have been extremely impressed with the modernization and the broad outreach that the library has demonstrated over the years," Baron says. "If elected, I would diligently look for ways in which that dedication to service can continue and expand."
Baron said his ability to communicate and to approach challenges creatively would be an asset to the board. For two years, he was the marketing director of the "Shop the Village" campaign in Oak Park that promoted local shopping among the community's various business districts.
For the second Shop the Village campaign, he conceived and played the tongue-in-cheek local superhero character of "Super Shopper Spotter" as the focal figure promoting inter-district patronage.
"I don't think I would wear a cape or big red boots at library board meetings, but I would serve with the same passion, persistence and courtesy that I strive to bring to other areas of my life," Baron says.
Since 2005, Baron has been principal of Inside Edge: Public Relations & Media Services. His office is located in Downtown Oak Park. He is a member of the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce, serves as president of the Marion-at-Mills Condominium Association, and coaches youth sports, including his children's Park District basketball teams.
A native of the Boston area, Baron is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
Did you know? Matt played on the same court as Hall of Fame basketball player Larry Bird, although it wasn't at the same time. For years, the Boston Celtics' rookie camp was held at Marshfield (Ma.) High School. Six years after Bird's rookie camp, Matt served as co-captain of the high school basketball team. In addition to coaching his children, Matt's primary basketball outlet now is shooting free throws ambidextrously.