Oak Park Trustee Bob Tucker won't run for third term

Says a 2021 run for village president isn't out of the question

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park Trustee Bob Tucker has announced he will not run for a third term on the Oak Park Board of Trustees in the upcoming election on April 2, 2019.

The two-term trustee said he aims to take "a break" to spend more time with his family and focus on a heavy workload at his job as chief operating officer and executive vice president of programs at Chicago Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit that provides financing for projects in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Some have speculated that Tucker could consider a run for village president in two years, but he said in an interview that he's not really thinking about that at this time.

"It's not only a long time in my life, but it's an eternity in the world of politics," he said. "I don't rule it out."

Tucker was elected to public office both times with the endorsement of the now-defunct Village Manager Association. He ran unopposed in his most recent election, along with Adam Salzman and Andrea Button.

Button, who also is up for re-election, announced in September that she also does not plan to run in 2019.

That leaves Trustee Jim Taglia as the only incumbent left in the upcoming election. It will be Taglia's first election bid for the seat; he was appointed to the position in 2017, following the departure of Salzman, who resigned.

Tucker said he would support Taglia in his run for trustee, calling him "a really great board member."

Tucker said he would always be proud of the economic development that boards he has served on has brought to Oak Park.

"These buildings add to the vibrancy [of the village]," he said, noting that the tenants of the downtown high-rises bring new life to local businesses like The Book Table bookstore and Poor Phil's restaurant and bar.

Tucker said other highlights of his time on the board include his work choosing not to opt out of a minimum wage hike imposed by Cook County; the board's approval of sanctuary city ordinance; and recent efforts to establish an affordable housing ordinance.

Four others have announced they plan to run for the board of trustees in the upcoming election: Tim Thomas, Susan Buchanan, Joshua Klayman and Greg Marsey.

tim@oakpark.com

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Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 24th, 2018 9:05 AM

Meant to also say that it is my experience anytime a board/trustee group turns over almost entirely, it is a signal that tough times are on the horizon (not always). Whoever the new group is, they will need to lead OP thru serious soul searching and tough decisions while balancing a host of bad circumstances (already listed).

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 9:14 PM

CORRECTED - The other issue is bad timing - sure it was not the intended consequence of ATM but the combination of rapidly growing taxes, questions regarding the efficacy /quality of OPRF, / faux progressive perception, rising interest rates, 5-7% growth in population (1000 new apts) with no infrstructure growth , lack of investment in school facilities nor plan for all the new kids moving here- all points to one clear thing we can all agree on - Oak PArk needs excellent leadership and we need to pull together

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 9:02 PM

The other issue is timing - sure it was not the intended consequence but the combination of rapidly growing taxes, questions regarding the efficacy /quality of OPRF, progressive roots, rising interest rates and 5-7% growth in population (apts) without infrastructure growth means, lack of investment in school facility all means one thing - Oak PArk needs excellent leadership and we need to pull together -

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 8:55 PM

Oak PArk is undergoing a generational change as with my mom 15 years ago, The issue is that taxes have risen far more rapidly than flat wages. A $500k house with $16-20K in tazes means $6k-7k a month just for mortgage. If we use 35% income for housing, that means family needs $18-20K a month in income . The investment in the pool is a long term investment to sustain the school. This is the paradox/situation. There are no good solutions left for OP . just a matter of picking the right combination to best position for the future. We cant cut our way to greatness - the only way this works is to grow - again, who ever is running needs a plan to address.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 7:59 PM

@CB. And the solution to "Oak Park is in trouble" (please look at the many homes for sale) is to knock down a large portion of the high school.....at a cost of over $150M?!? Most of the "Imagine" plan is driven by the 600-seat huge swimming pool!?! People are leaving OP because of the taxes and the solution is.....to spend more money on non-essentials and bring about another referendum sooner?!? Put this matter to vote in 2020 and let ALL of the people decide. Not just the small number that turn out in municipal elections. Or is the D200 board concerned about the results? I know that the handful of "pool people" are. This special interest group may be very small, but they sure are committed!

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 5:49 PM

15 years ago, Sears decided that ecommerce was not a threat and that decision/approach led to the eventual demise. I wonder (out loud) if our lack of urgency will lead to Oak Parks long term decline. When I discuss OP with my mom who lives in Downers now she says "OP is no where what it used to be and is greatly over rated" which I disagree with - but I wonder will this become our reality?

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 5:39 PM

Why are we arguing over this? This is tiny relative to value a good board member can create. and paying them nothing is a huge amount for those who destroy value. Oak Park is in trouble (or at leaset at tipping point) - on multiple dimensions and needs strong leadership. Lets support whoever is willing to step up and we all have a vested interest. In case you have not noticed, our reputation as progressive suburb with excellent schools is taking a hit AND we are leveraging our schools/taxes/ fiscal future with 1000 plus apartments.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 5:30 PM

Jim Frenkel, your opinion is one opinion and welcome to it! You say to me, "you are vastly overestimating the amount of time needed to effectively function as trustee". I made the point or raising that issue in a previous post about some of the Village Board making too much of their job. I was not saying we should or shouldn't raise compensation. I said incidentally to other things that we might need to consider that. According to employees at Village Hall, David Pope spent all day every day there, which was cited by some as making too much of his job. Mayor Anan Abu Taleb (WJ May 2016) said he believes "an appropriate salary would fall between the village manager's annual pay of $165,000". This would raise the Village Mayor/President's from the stipend of $10,000 before he served, to $25,000 during his term, to $165,000 annually. Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb,made the case at that meeting of "making the village's next top elected official a full-time position with a real salary." - http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/5-6-2016/Mayor%27s-call-for-full_time-salary-runs-into-trustee-opposition/- Bob Tucker said in the article you posted - from WJ in October 2016 -" I try to encourage people with lesser means to be involved [in village government], and I know these things hold them back," So, from May to October, the issue of compensation and increasing it was still on some people's minds. He understood that only people with a certain level of economic means can work for so little, which translates into economic discrimination. Tucker added "the increase could help bring in a more diverse group of trustee candidates, arguing that the cost of child care and other issues associated with attending meetings can be too much of a burden for some who would otherwise serve on the board". He understood that fair compensation was an issue worth discussion. No one is suggesting raising taxes or increasing the "fiscal largesse" you decry.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 3:18 PM

I should add that the new faces on the Village Board were more than incensed when they saw this action of doubling their raises at a time when property taxes were going though the roof. Having spoken with them when they decided to run, it was clear that this was one example, albeit small, of the perceived attitude of fiscal largesse that was making it increasingly impossible for some families to stay in OP.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 3:14 PM

@Christine, you're vastly overestimating the amount of time needed to effectively function as trustee. To think that they should be paid "a living wage" for a part time role, which it was meant to be, is frankly naive. And remember who has the power to set the compensation: http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/10-18-2016/Mayor%2C-trustees-more-than-double-annual-pay/

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 23rd, 2018 12:20 PM

Here are some of the facts about stipends. Up until 1981, trustees were still earning $100 per month. There was a short period where health benefits were thrown in but that got taken away. In 2016 the Village Bd. and Trustees were paid $7, 200 per year and it was raised to $15,000 and the Pres. $10,800 to $25,000. They did not raise the Village Clerk's salary nor did they reduce it. Village Clerk earns a good salary. River Forest Village Pres and Trustees do not get a salary or stipend. In the past, there was more the attitude (that also existed in Oak Park as well), where privilege creates an attitude of 'noblesse oblige' ("nobility obligates") which might be where the paternalistic style of governing came from which existed under one party rule for going on 70 years. It an attitude of the responsibility to give back = public service. That same attitude expressed in the sentence "To whom much is given, much is expected." Altruistic but is it realistic for these times and accessibility to participation in government by people who don't have the finances to do both things, work and donate their time to public service. No matter what is ever decided about this, the most essential thing needed as perfectly modeled for the Nation in the Dixon, Illinois, the Rita Crundwell Story...well told in the movie "All the Queen's Horses", the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history - is oversight. It is needed everywhere at all levels of government and it is so lacking.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 21st, 2018 9:50 AM

As we have learned from the Imagine group, it takes a lot of hard work to ruin stuff. All of our trustees and boards are working so very hard these days.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: October 19th, 2018 11:05 PM

Chris: I guess it depends what your definition of small stipend is: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-trustee-pay-tl-1020-20161018-story.html Members of both D97 and D200 school boards put in a ton of time as well; their decisions have a much bigger effect on our property tax burden as well. They get no remuneration at all. None. Zero. Nada. Zipp.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 19th, 2018 9:38 PM

Kevin, I didn't mean, but I didn't clearly say, that they are not paid. They are not paid salaries. They get small stipends...unless something has changed in recent history. It is certainly nothing like a living wage or sufficient compensation for the time and effort required. Please, if something has changed regarding the traditional small stipend, I am all ears!

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2018 6:38 PM

Christine Vernon: I always enjoy your comments, but you are wrong about the Village Trustees being unpaid. They ARE paid, as are the Township Trustees. Only the School Board, Park Board, and Library Board members are unpaid.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 18th, 2018 11:41 AM

Tom, did you not realize that Oak Park was almost exclusively one party rule for almost 70 years? The VMA, founded in the 1950's by Dwight Follett & Cyrus Giddings, father of former Village President Sara Giddings Bode 1981, did needed rehab of a grossly-malfunctioning Village Board. But, over the years, they became a political machine of sometimes arrogant dictators. They drove people who opposed them from participation in local government. Anger about that machine and its heavy-handed rule mounted in recent years and they - supposedly - dissolved the organization. Many doubt that is actually true. It would be like thinking Chicago's Democratic Machine went away. Even if it were true, the modus operandi of the VMA, the "We know what's best for you." attitude, persists as clearly evident in the high school pool debacle. That is why this is good to read that this trustee installed by the Village Manager Association, who has been engaged in public service for the Village for two years is in effect setting term limits for himself, a good example to follow, as is having less appointees, described in the article. For many years, people have worked for an actual democracy in Oak Park. Today that includes a new younger demographic, many new homeowners, also resolute about there being a democracy in Oak Park's governing. It is a good sign. It is hard to get good people to serve. The job is demanding and non-paying. (Thank you Mr. Tucker for your years of service!) Pay might have to change, who can work for free except the wealthy?! Pay schedules should not be decided by people when they are in the office. It needs to be decided thoughtfully, along with term limits, by citizens. The other thing that deserves consideration is making more of the job of serving on the Board than is necessary. There is a whole building of people at Village Hall paid to run Oak Park. The Board should be directing, reviewing, and overseeing that work, and not doing trying to do all themselves.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 6:39 PM

Tom MacMillan: Over the years many Trustees not only ran unopposed. They didn't run at all, at first, but were appointed to fill vacancies. Then they ran as incumbents. I believe we currently have three Trustees who started out as appointees. At least with the current situation, we will soon be rid of the last taint of the VMA, which was sort of a fraternity/sorority organization.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 10:12 AM

It is amazing how many of these Trustees ran unopposed, so they basically got the job by default. Then they vote on things as if they had some sort of massive mandate from everyone.

Judith Alexander from Oak Park  

Posted: October 16th, 2018 2:32 PM

All of us on The North Avenue District board appreciate Bob's support for the revitalization of North Avenue. He serves on the steering committee for CMAP's North Avenue Plan and has often provided us with excellent advice. We will greatly miss working with Bob in his capacity as trustee and thank him for his service.

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