With call for civility, petition challenge dropped in Oak Park parks

Ex-park board president says he hopes for a 'civil campaign'

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Former Park District of Oak Park president David Kindler has dropped his challenge to the election petitions of three park board hopefuls.

Kindler announced Monday morning that he no longer wanted to challenge the candidacies of Diane Dunn, Thomas Finch and Julie Grossman MacCarthy in the April election. They are three of six Oak Parkers who are competing for three soon-to-be open spots on the park board.

Last month, Kindler filed an objection to their candidacies — claiming that a large portion of the signatures they submitted to the county were invalid, and that they were running together as a slate, which is against Illinois election law.

But after comparing the signatures obtained from registered voters to the actual updated list, Kindler found that more were valid than he initially thought. That, coupled with a desire to see a contested election in April, led Kindler to drop his objection via e-mail Monday morning.

Nonetheless, Kindler — who circulated petitions for incumbent Jessica Bullock — still expressed concern that the petitions of all three candidates were circulated by the same people (which violates election rules). One of those circulators was Les Golden, a vocal and longtime critic of the park district.

"We're hoping for a civil dialogue, based on an understanding of what's going on in the park district and the facts," Kindler said. "We're hoping it's free of sideshow antics, and the voters end up getting a really good idea of what folks stand for."

Also competing for spots on the park board are Bullock, along with newbies Vic Guarino and Paul Aeschleman. Kindler said he also objected to the three candidates' petitions because of a conversation he had with Guarino last month, in which Guarino said he was called by Golden. In the phone call, Golden allegedly told Guarino "that this was his slate of candidates and that he would do anything to get the current park district executive director fired," Kindler said.

Reached Monday, Guarino confirmed that he had such a conversation with Golden.

Meanwhile, Golden denied that the phone call took place, and said he has never met Guarino before. "It's apparent that Vic Guarino is trying to get some votes here," he said. Golden also denied ever calling the three candidates "his slate," saying that he was simply one of several people who were circulating petitions for Dunn, Finch and MacCarthy.

"There's s a lot of unhappiness from many quarters about what's going on with the park district," he said. Golden was taken to court by the park district for allegedly trespassing at Field Park in 2007. A judge later sentenced him to a year of court supervision and 40 hours of community service.

Dunn and Finch could not be reached for comment by late Monday afternoon. A phone number for Grossman MacCarthy is not publicly available.

The Cook County electoral board was scheduled to hear Kindler's objection on Monday morning. But without Kindler in attendance, the board can dismiss the objection, according to the county clerk's website. County clerk spokeswoman Courtney Greve confirmed Monday that the case had been closed, and that the three candidates will remain on the April election ballot.

Reader Comments

26 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Rev. John Fitzpatrick from Oak Park  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 5:35 PM

What's with the renewed spraying of pesticides by the current park board. DO they live on another planet or in another county? leave the earth in peace.

Arnie Stang from op  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 5:17 PM

My taxes are now at 13,000 and I can't afford this town. Hopefully Diane Dunn, Thomas J. Finch, and Julie Grossman-MacCarthy will deliver their promise of a 10% tax decrease that I got in an email from one of them. THANK YOU!

Tess Papermaker from op  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 5:14 PM

I'm glad we have a choice in this election. Soccer fields swollen with rain because of poor design, overwhelming taxes, no-bid contracts, etc. I've had enough of the insiders a the Oak Park park district.

Jeanne Lanz Butterfield from OP  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 4:22 PM

A new modern stadium, tourism revenue, and TREES is the ticket. Thanks for running to defeat the incumbent Jessica Bullock.

Jayne again (not my last name) from op  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 4:15 PM

I meant Jayne Carlson. Too happy that such good people are running and my fingers got messed up. Power to the people, not the insiders.

Jayne from OP  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 4:14 PM

Jayne Carlons from OP says: WE need new leadership at the park district, no more of the insiders for me.

OPer from Oak Park  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 4:13 PM

Hear hear!! On the property tax bill they have the highest percentage of pensions as a fraction of taxes levied. Too many fat cats.

JKD from OP  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 4:13 PM

The park district personnel should also pay more of their benefits to lower the taxes.

Anthony Taglieri from OP  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 4:02 PM

SAVE TREES!! LOWER THE PROPERTY TAXES!! BUILD A NEW STADIUM TO ATTRACT TOURISTS!! That's how I read Diane Dunn, Thomas J. Finch, and Julie Grossman-Maccarthy. I hope they run as a team for the park district commissioner.

Arnold Gorstenson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 3:47 PM

Reducing property taxes in Oak Park would be welcome, especially with district 97 going for a tax increase. Thomas J. Finch, however you do it is good enough for me.

Kate Kleist from OP  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 3:45 PM

I got an email that they are planning a fundraiser at the Carleton, in the main ballroom. Date was to be set. See you there!!!

Phillip Tollkeuhn from OP  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 3:44 PM

Are these good candidates going to have a fundraiser? If so, please post it here so I can attend and donate.

Mr. and Mrs. J. Reynolds from OP  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 3:43 PM

Not destroying trees would be a major change at the Oak Park Park District. Good luck to Tom, Diane, and Julie in their election campaigns.

Thomas J. Finch, Candidate from Oak Park  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 3:41 PM

Without having met Diane Dunn and Julie Grossman-MacCarthy, I can say that I share their sentiment that healthy trees in the parks should not be destroyed for ball fields. That is one reason I propose a modern new soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey, and outdoor ice skating stadium at Ridgeland Common, which will be paid by corporate naming rights and philanthropy, not property taxes. Thomas J. Finch, Candidate

Dooper  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 12:13 PM

Wasn't part of Golden's sentence that he had to refrain from involving himself in anything having to do with the Park District?

F  

Posted: January 12th, 2011 12:15 AM

As yet, none of the three have responded to the question of their connection with Les Golden.......

Al Weinrub from Oak Park  

Posted: January 11th, 2011 11:03 PM

Diane Dunn, Tom Finch, and Julie MacCarthy sound like perfect candidates.

Thomas J.Finch, Candidate from Oak Park  

Posted: January 11th, 2011 8:17 PM

The major element of my platform is to create a major athletic complex in the center of Oak Park by intergovernmental cooperation between the high school and the park district. This would utilize the existing high school athletic fields, Ridgeland Common, and a new playing field created on the roof space of the high school parking garage. This complex would be used by all Oak Park residents, children and adults alike. New development of the neighborhood parks would focus on, in addition to their current use for organized athletics, use by young children, 3rd grade and under, and for passive and non-athletic use by adults and families. The Ridgeland Common athletic complex would be developed using philanthropic and corporate donations, largely by the selling of naming rights. I envision a state-of-the-art facility for regional, sectional, and national tournaments, generating income for the park district and the high school. I will seek to reduce the dependence on property taxes in the funding of other park district programs by carefully searching for cost savings in every budgetary item so that we can deliver an actual decrease in taxes.

Park User  

Posted: January 11th, 2011 4:40 PM

Hi Diane. Please site an example of when programming has destroyed parks. Thanks.

OP Resident  

Posted: January 11th, 2011 4:21 PM

Diane, Are you endorsed or have any connection to Les Golden? If so, what and how?

Diane Dunn from Oak Park  

Posted: January 11th, 2011 1:23 PM

I am a 25 year resident of Oak Park, and very thankful and honored to be a candidate for the Park District Board. I want to make the park district a great institution for children of all ages. I am a green person and will do all I can to provide enhanced sports programming without the destruction of neighborhood parks. I hope to meet as many of my fellow residents in the coming weeks as possible. Diane Dunn

Former PDOP employee  

Posted: January 11th, 2011 10:53 AM

I would love to see a timeline in the Wednesday Journal of all the crap Les Golden has put the Park District and residents near Field Park (and the rest of the village) through. He is clearly an unstable man who takes his frustration with Mike Grandy out on the entire community. Les, give it a break.

Park User  

Posted: January 10th, 2011 10:03 PM

Thanks Julie; I think it was important for you to come on this board to try to shake some of that Les tainted baggage. Your interest sounds genuine. I would like you to site specific examples of unnecessary cutting of trees. Based on my experience the park district has taken deliberate steps to keep a happy balance of open space, trees and recreation. If you believe a tree should not be removed until it is diseased or dead, that is too extreme for me and a lot of Oak Parkers.

OP Resident  

Posted: January 10th, 2011 9:55 PM

Julie, Are you endorsed or have any connection to Les Golden? If so, what and how?

Julie Grossman MacCarthy from Oak Park  

Posted: January 10th, 2011 9:45 PM

I am gratified to have the opportunity to run for the Oak Park Park District Board. I have lived in the Village for more than 20 years. For much of that time the annual skating show was on my family's calendar. I am the marketing director of a visual arts organization that conducts programs in the Chicago Public Schools. My job takes me into racially, ethnically and economically diverse communities. Beyond that, I have a strong personal commitment to diversity. I value and enjoy Oak Park's inclusive community. If elected, I will work to ensure that the Park District offers a balanced mix of programs--athletic programs, fine and performing arts programs, and multicultural programs---that appeal to people of all ages. I support efforts to build a safe and secure dog park. I pledge myself to curtail the unnecessary cutting down of trees. Our green heritage makes Oak Park a great place to live and raise children. Thank you for considering my candidacy. Julie MacCarthy

No way I am voting for them....  

Posted: January 10th, 2011 12:23 PM

All 3 of them had petitions circulated by Les Golden? That is all I need to know. Sorry, none of the three are getting my vote now....

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