Who should be Villager of the Year for Oak Park and River Forest?

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Again this year, Wednesday Journal is asking readers for their nominations for our annual Villager of the Year award. Previously this selection process was as secret as picking the pope. But we asked for your ideas last year and the world didn't end, so we have decided to ask again.

Time is short, so send your thoughts today. The deadline for nominations is this Friday, Dec. 23 at 5 p.m.
Click here to nominate someone.

Here are the details:

  • There will be both a River Forest and an Oak Park Villager of the Year. There will also be runner-ups representing each village.
  • We are looking for the individual – OK, some times we choose a small group – who has had the greatest impact on the community in the past year. It doesn't have to have been a positive impact, though typically it is just that.
  • Journal editors make the final choices.
  • Villager of the Year will be announced in print on Wednesday, Jan. 4. The intensely curious will find the announcement at OakPark.com at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 3

Thanks for joining in the nominating process.

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 31st, 2011 10:25 PM

I nominate Mark Stopek. He kept the OP year real and gave us laughter at a time we need it. Happy 2012

OPRF Achievement Gap  

Posted: December 28th, 2011 7:36 AM

@Dan, good you have already chosen the people yourself. These ideas added nothing.

Marian Garrigan from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 27th, 2011 7:17 PM

Mary Jo Schuler for her good works and forward thinking.


Posted: December 27th, 2011 1:55 PM

I suspect that if we had a 2011 Moron of the Year Award, there would be a plethora of nominees.


Posted: December 27th, 2011 1:22 PM

Gary Cuneen of Seven Generations Ahead.


Posted: December 27th, 2011 9:45 AM

Bill Fitzgerald of Oak Park who owns and operates Fitzgerald's on Roosevelt Rd.

Casual Observer from Oak Park  

Posted: December 27th, 2011 6:36 AM

How about Peter Traczyk, Jassen Strokosch, Caroline Song and the group that got the District 97 referendum passed? They've sure made an impact on my taxes. Jeesh! Or maybe include Noel Kuriakos for helping expose just how divided a community Oak Park is becoming over these types of issues. The referendum definitely changed the way we see each other in the village (even though mant feel it won't do a thing for the schools).

OP Rez-i-dente  

Posted: December 26th, 2011 6:49 PM

Can anyone be Villager of the Year twice?

ML from Oak Park  

Posted: December 26th, 2011 3:22 PM

How about departing park district executive director Gary Balling?


Posted: December 25th, 2011 11:21 PM

Doug Wyman


Posted: December 25th, 2011 3:45 PM

I like NorthOakParker's nomination of Bob Tucker.

Frank G Frangello from Oak park   

Posted: December 25th, 2011 10:24 AM

Gus the retired village trustee and Architect that had his office above my Restaurant He died this past year and was great with the people of the Village of Oak Park!

Luke ScottWalker from Oak Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2011 5:18 PM

op rez, your jealousy is showing. Ms Schuler is one of many deserving people.

op rez  

Posted: December 21st, 2011 3:53 PM

She already got to rename south marion to "Pleasant District" what more do you want. I don't think money should necessarily buy you this title

OP Joe from Oak Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2011 3:31 PM

Mary Jo Schuler for her constant philanthropy.

Gary Sullivan from River Forest  

Posted: December 21st, 2011 1:19 PM

I apologize for not remembering or knowing this but if Nancy Dillon, Rest in Peace, could receive this award then I would hope that she receive it. Just raising 5 or 6 boys on her own and being involved with the government and community of River Forest for as many years as she was sure qualifies her in my mind.

Jason M. from Oak Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2011 7:43 PM

T.J., Perhaps the Wednesday Journal could use a police sketch artist's drawing from one of the numerous unsolved violent crimes when they make their nomination. It would be funny to see the sketch in place of a real photo. Or maybe they could use an actual mug shot if the OPPD ever solved any of these crimes. Just don't use any OPRF stundents, those crimes don't count.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: December 20th, 2011 7:34 PM

Can the person who has had the biggest impact on the village be a criminal? I think the ever increasing violent crime has had the biggest impact on our village. We should nominate the worst offender for helping to ruin our sense of safety in Oak Park.

I'm A Dude Playing A Dude Disguised As Another Dude  

Posted: December 20th, 2011 1:16 PM

My vote for Villager Of The Year goes to: Red Brick Pavers

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 20th, 2011 1:06 PM

I nominate Lynn Kessen for Oak Park person of the year for proving that Oak Park elections can be competitive without a large number of endorsements, high name recognition, or high campaign expenditures. Lynn ran as an independent with campaign expense of about $1,000 and received 19% of the votes cast in a five person race for three Oak Park Trustee. She finished fourth, but received 19% of the total vote and trailed the third place finisher by only 3 points. In addition, she finished only 8 points behind the leading vote getter, an incumbent. The three candidates elected ran on a slate and spent about 20,000 dollars or 6,700 per person. On a cost per vote basis, Ms. Kassen spent twenty cents per vote. The slate candidates on average spent four times as much as Ms. Kessen with ninety four cents per vote each. Ms. Kessen's effort proves that Oak Parkers voters are independent and not slate dependent in making election choices.

Violet Aura Gets My Vote!  

Posted: December 20th, 2011 11:06 AM

I just love her witty remarks, insightful analysis of all issues concerning OPRF, and her vast public appeal.

from OP  

Posted: December 20th, 2011 10:23 AM

Becca from Live Here Oak Park!

OP Rez  

Posted: December 20th, 2011 8:00 AM

Can anyone at your paper be it? Based on the feed back from some stories maybe Ken Trainer would be appropriate.

Jim Shore   

Posted: December 19th, 2011 10:11 PM

Mike Clark

OP Resident  

Posted: December 19th, 2011 9:58 PM

OP Resident

OP Resident  

Posted: December 19th, 2011 8:25 PM

Mr. Ray Heise


Posted: December 19th, 2011 7:31 PM

David Pope,Tom Barwin or Bob Tucker.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2011 6:22 PM

This years Village of the Year award needs to be presented to both Pope and Barwin. To their credit, they have cost tax payers millions of dollars. Pope has shown his desire to leave a lasting debt to taxpayers and Barwin has demonstrated his shrewd negotiations with his own residential property and the ability to get everything he wants out of Oak Park. Congratulations to both Pope and Barwin, job well done.


Posted: December 19th, 2011 5:04 PM

could the WJ/OP.com nominate everyone who posts here to be citizens of the year...or too much of a take off on Time magazine person of the year "protester"?

Oak Park First  

Posted: December 19th, 2011 3:47 PM

The nomination of Ray Johnson was just another joke by the one who calls herself Silly. She's trying to stir things up with her usual sense of the absurd. Pay her no mind.

Another Point  

Posted: December 19th, 2011 3:29 PM

Not Ray Johnson, that is for sure. how about d200 who fought village hall and one for all taxpayers!

Love Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2011 2:35 PM

IMPACT @ OPRFHS and/or the Vote Yes for D97 Committee.


Posted: December 19th, 2011 2:06 PM

Ray Johnson.

paul from oak park  

Posted: December 19th, 2011 1:42 PM

I would like to nominate David Barsotti, Kevin Murphy and Sharon Patchak-Layman as Villagers of the Year. Through personal due diligence these three individuals have done what all the taxing bodies could not do for themselves; expose the dirty little secrets of how things get done in our community. David, Kevin and Sharon simply want an open and honest local government. And though they are vilified and discredited by the powers that be they continue on, hoping that the truth will come out.

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