Second trustee attempts leap to Oak Park president post

• Diana Carpenter gets VMA backing for village president. Pledges to delegate more duties to trustees if elected.

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By KATHARINE GRAYSON

The Village Manager Association (VMA) on Monday announced its slate of candidates for Oak Park's village board, president and clerk, most of whom are long-time residents with prior experience in local politics.

For the position of village president, to be vacated by Joanne Trapani next April, the VMA has endorsed sitting Trustee Diana Carpenter.

Carpenter said Monday she's excited about her nomination, and is looking forward to revamping the president's role on the board and in the community.

"I see the role of the president not so much as the person who everybody comes for a decision to be made because there are six other people, then a final vote," she said "The president only sets the agenda, leads the discussion and keeps the dialogue going."

Carpenter added that Oak Park has come to expect the village president to sometimes take on too strong a role. "It's become more physically and humanly impossible. I would really like to spread around the work in a broader way," she said, noting that delegating more responsibility to other board members makes trustees' experience more rewarding.

VMA candidates for the three open village board seats are Raymond Barbosa, Dorothy Reid Yarbrough and Mas Takiguchi.

Takiguchi, outgoing president of the Oak Park Residence Corporation and a former trustee candidate, said last month that he was interested in running for village president. He could not be reached before deadline for comment on his slating as trustee.

Takiguchi, an attorney who has been active in a number of housing-related organizations, came in fourth place in a race for three seats during the 2002 election.

Reid Yarbrough, a former District 97 school board member, and current president of the Oak Park chapter of the NAACP, has also been slated for trustee.

"I believe service is the rent we pay for living on this earth. I considered it, looked at my schedule, and it seemed like a good thing to do," Reid Yarbrough said of her decision to seek nomination. "It's important there is good representation in the village and that the village board reflects the diversity within the community,"

Reid Yarbrough, who also previously ran for state representative and lost in an extremely tight election, added that she's interested in "continuing to get residents involved in the process."

"Obviously, development is a big thing. What's the right development, how do we include residents in the process, making sure developments coming in are fair and good for Oak Park, not just for developers," she said. She's also interested in affordable housing, and "keeping a line on property taxes."

Also slated is Raymond Barbosa, an attorney and 22-year resident, who has served on several boards and commissions in and outside of Oak Park, according to a VMA press release.

Barbosa's law practice specializes in taxation and business planning, according to the press statement, which added that he has represented several Fortune 500 companies.

"We are excited to have Raymond...bring his expertise in finance and decision making abilities to the village board," states the release.

Barbosa could not be reached for comment.

The VMA has also nominated incumbent Sandra Sokol for the position of village clerk. Sokol, who has held the position since 1993, said she is interested in running again because there are still things she'd like to accomplish.

"I care very much about the community and I like being involved with citizens and interacting with them," she said. "I have history and have made a difference in the lives of residents. It's exciting to be in Oak Park and I'd like to be present to participate in a time of challenge and growth."

Sokol also said she's interested in working on re-codification of the village's code, as well as "important things in the community separate from day to day work of the village clerk," including getting youth to "understand civics and government involvement."

The New Leadership Coalition (NLC) expects to settle on a slate of candidates for village president, clerk, and three trustees, at a final caucus meeting on December 19. The names of the candidates, who will oppose the VMA-backed slate in next April's election, will be released by the end of the year, according to a press release from the organization.

A caucus of 65 people interviewed candidates over the last several months.

Michael Williams, chair of the NLC caucus, said last week that he has been impressed by residents who have sought nomination.

"I think this has been a good process. We have seen earnest, qualified people, with a fair amount of experience either serving on the board in the past, or with various community groups," he said.

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