By Anna Lothson
District 97 school board President Peter Barber said he spent serious time considering what he wanted to do in April.
When the spring municipal election hits, his school board term will be up, but some of the goals he's helped initiate are still works in progress — including the recently proposed joint administrative building project that involves the village, the school district and the park district.
It's the collaborative nature of that project that's got Barber vying to stay actively involved in the community. But this time he hopes to join the ranks of the village board. Barber, along with current trustees Colette Lueck, Glenn Brewer, John Hedges and Village Clerk Teresa Powell were officially endorsed by the Village Manager Association on Oct. 23.
At a time when municipalities are tightening their belts, Barber believes his knowledge will translate well at the village level.
"I have a deep understanding of District 97 and the challenges it faces, so I can help address those and the interests of the entire community by pursuing a spot on the community board," he explained. "Many of the things I've worked on have been in pursuit of trying to work together."
Barber thought about running for another term on the school board but decided it was time for a new challenge. Plus, he's ready to help implement a more collaborative effort with other government entities.
"The fact that we're seeing this partnership is, to me, a perfect example of how village government bodies can work at a more perfect level. ... I think there is absolutely a commitment to do more of it. I think I can help accelerate that commitment," Barber said. "All the governing bodies have to start doing whatever we can to limit the burden on taxpayers. Finding ways we can work together and efficiently will unquestionably lead to lessening that burden."
This philosophy is also at the heart of VMA's selection process. The announcement from the organization said Barber was selected in large part because of his "ongoing commitment to improving collaborative relationships among local governing bodies and his fresh ideas on economic development and fostering trust in local government." Barber works at Lipman Hearne Inc., an agency that does marketing communications for nonprofit clients, where he is senior vice president of business and account development.
As the VMA-endorsed candidates form a slate to run on, Barber said having a cooperative approach to challenges will remain a top priority on his list. There wasn't one specific issue that made him shift his focus from schools to the village, he said. Instead his decision to run was about focusing his expertise on a new set of issues.
"I've certainly become very familiar with the concerns of our citizens. ... We have a very stiff tax burden. We have to start minimizing that and talking."