Oak Park Villagers of the Year
When they were children, Tom Barwin and David Pope both wanted to be baseball players. Decades later, Oak Park's village manager and president are doing things vastly different. However, the village's top officials are still swinging for the fences when it comes to village governance.
Over the past year, Pope has provided leadership in the transition from previous to current village board. He has dedicated his efforts to the new Marion Street in the face of challenging circumstances and opposition, and he has displayed a willingness to hear all sides of the debate on policy issues.
Along with Manager Barwin-who in 16 months as manager, has fostered an honest, open-door policy at the village, helped Oak Park government operate in a more business-like fashion, uncovered some questionable practices and done his best to balance the budget-President Pope helped lead Oak Park toward a more optimistic, hopeful frame of mind in 2008.
Granted, the two officials had help from a new village board (elected in April), a new chief financial officer (hired in March), and the entire village staff and community. However, there's no doubt these two have exerted the greatest influence on Oak Park in 2007, which is why we've named them co-Villagers of the Year.