End of an era: Hoke, Dudek leaving River Forest board

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Show/Hide Gallery

By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

After four years of spearheading spirited and often rancorous debates, the River Forest village board's two minority trustees, Steve Hoke and Steve Dudek, are leaving. Neither filed petitions to run for one of the three openings on the board by the deadline Monday night.

Both had been vague about whether or not they would run but had hinted they might not be back. Dudek publicly said he wouldn't be back at a meeting this summer, then backed off when asked about it.

Neither had much success pushing ideas through this year; only a handful of minor items presented gained any support at all.

They typically played the role of vocal opponent instead, often slowing debate to a crawl and spawning contentious shouting matches.

Trustee Jim Winikates said that without Hoke and Dudek on the board, debate should be much more civil, but it won't affect the way the village conducts its business.

"The meetings will certainly be shorter," Winikates said. "To tell you the truth, there won't be much difference in what gets done. I don't think they've done much but impede. ... People on the board will still challenge things; that's not going to go away."

A slate of three people, led by incumbent Trustee Susan Conti, have filed for the three open seats on the board. They'll run unopposed.

Trustee Mike Gibbs said he's hoping for a more positive atmosphere in the spring, when the new board takes shape.

"I'm looking forward to the next board being able to look across the table and have conversations without getting destructive in the way they talk to each other," Gibbs said. "People can have differing opinions without having to go at each other's throats."

Colleen Horrigan, a lifelong River Forest resident, is running with Conti and Carmela Corsini, who works as assistant to the village manager in Elmwood Park.

Horrigan served with Dudek on the River Forest park board until 2005, and said she had a good working relationship with him.

"I know we had differences of opinion at times, but it didn't become a major issue when I was there," she said. "It wasn't as divisive as the village board is now."

With Conti and Corsini, Horrigan thinks they have a good chance of reducing the contentiousness that characterizes the board now.

"Susan Conti has done a great job on the board, and Carmela is a terrific expert of local government," Horrigan said last week, before the filings were final. "Hopefully, if the three of us get up there together, it'll work well."

Neither Hoke nor Dudek returned calls from Wednesday Journal as of press time on Tuesday.

This story has been corrected from a previous version that appeared online and in print to reflect that Carmela Corsini is assistant to the village manager in Elmwood Park.

Reader Comments

22 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy


Posted: January 15th, 2011 9:05 AM

TIF Use in RF - why is the Wednesday Journal not following this Story. The great misuse of the TIF over the last 10 years in RF. Can someone from the Village or the Bd let us know what the return was on all the money spent? Jim had great questions - how are copiers, street lights and HVAC legal to spend on TIF? That is a story as well.

TIF Returns  

Posted: December 31st, 2010 8:50 AM

TIF Return on Investment Now that the 22 year RF TIF is History, can we please see a straight forward and measured return % on the investment that Taxpayers paid for - likely caused D90 to go to referendum several years ago. Thank You


Posted: December 28th, 2010 12:35 PM

Alright Claire. I will put my faith in you that they will do the job. Thank You for pointing that out and we all will be watching to see What they do. Now, will someone address my question/concern as to why the Board spent money from the TIF for copiers, street lights and projection / HVAC systems for village hall.

Claire from RF  

Posted: December 28th, 2010 11:20 AM

Jim, I have to agree with Tom D. RF is lucky to have Carmella Corsini and Colleen Horrigan added to the RF board. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that you won't even give them a chance before you label them as "loyalists" to the village president.

Mary RF  

Posted: December 28th, 2010 10:53 AM

I am happy to see change in my town. I do like wj articles and for people to look out for me and all the taxes I pay. My little village needs better stores too many openings for so long and I have to drive far.


Posted: December 28th, 2010 10:19 AM

Read the News Papers - they covered in detail all the issues and the hard topics. Even the papers were critical of the way the TIF was spent by the Board - sending money for street lights, copiers and projection systems. Will these expenditures create economic development for RF and produce revenue? Can someone on the Board address that question? Glad to see the Board did not spend any more of the TIF money. It should have been returned to the Taxpayers however.

Tom D.  

Posted: December 28th, 2010 10:02 AM

Jim, your ignorance and fear-mongering is stunning (and strikingly similar to the two Steve's tactics). You obviously know little or nothing about the governments of either Melrose Park or Elmwood Park. And it is clear you know absolutely nothing of either Carmela Corsini and Colleen Horrigan, both of whom are high quality individuals who will bring independent minds and ideas to the RF board (without the mindless obstructionism of your so-called "independents").

John OConnor from RF  

Posted: December 28th, 2010 9:38 AM

Tom from RF, (Tom Who?) I agree that tough questions and dissent are solid parts of the Government. But you have not answered the question from your prior post "what were the hard questions asked over the past 2 years"? What policy questions and issues did Trustees Hoke and Dudek bring forward over the past 2 years? When did the current Trustees not listen to residents? Can you please be specific? I have attended many board meetings in the past and have not heard residents complaining that their wishes were not being listened to nor have I read in the paper any such complaints. Tom from RF, your comments are general %u201Cfeel good%u201D consulting like comments. We need people who want to work hard and be part of the solution. I have not seen that from Trustees Hoke or Dudek. What I have seen is two people who miss many meetings and when they do attend they simply impede progress. When the community came out in force to ask that the TIF dollars be distributed pro-rata Trustees Hoke and Dudek voted not to follow the law and distribute the TIF funds. Trustee Dudek voted %u201Cpresent%u201D after a referendum was passed to increase the sales tax. Is this how they listen to the will of the people? I worked tirelessly getting the new board members elected because as a resident I wanted to see change on our Village Board. I did not like the direction and the behavior of our Village Board. I have seen nothing but positive changes.


Posted: December 27th, 2010 4:03 PM

Fred, the reference to Melrose Park and Elmwood Park has to do with its government, not the people (the people are quite nice). The next River Forest Board will not have any independents like Dudek and Hoke, only loyalist to Village President John Rigas. RF can soon expect taxes and fees to increase in surprising ways, much like the levy increase for D200 that you pay for, but you never voted to approve. Read the Pioneer Press article Who's Who of Proviso-Leyden Ties to learn more.

Fred from Oak park  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 3:12 PM

Since when do people in River Forest think they are better than everyone else. What's wrong with Melrose Park and Elmwood Park?

Enuf is Enuf   

Posted: December 25th, 2010 1:43 PM

RF Village Tax Increase ""In short, what you're seeing essentially is the redirection of the property tax that was previously being sent to the Village's TIF fund now being redistributed to each of the taxing bodies as part of their tax levy," said Village Administrator Eric Palm. The VILLAGE should stop spending so MUCH and reduce its levy - is that being responsible?


Posted: December 24th, 2010 6:02 PM

It is the voice of the people not the government. Hoke and Dudek voted no for Plunketts because the corridor plan called for mixed use there. The developer wanted a single story building that brings less tax dollars than the current building. But why would the board follow the corridor plan? Because the developer told them he did want to. This is the same developer who told the board he wanted $2.4 million dollars of tax dollars for Lake and Lathrop. Of course Hoke and Dudek voted against that!

Tom from RF  

Posted: December 24th, 2010 8:39 AM

Voice of the People - from Residents, who the elected officials Work For! NOT the other way around. In 2011 Economic Development Commission needed. Job & Voice of Elected Officials is to question everything, to make sure ideas are sound - not just ask THEIR own questions & Listen to residents. Tough questions & dissent are solid parts of the Governmental process (Democracy). It ensures ideas that are brought forward are adequately vetted, much more solid and valued by Residents & Taxpayers.

John O'Connor  

Posted: December 23rd, 2010 11:51 AM

The voice of the people comes from those elected. I have not heard that the current board is doing bad things. If saying no to everything with no alternative is the voice of the people, then it is not the voice I am looking for. Regarding economic development, in the past year I recall 3 economic development proposals that have come before the board, Plunkett's, Lake and Lathrop and RF Town Center lease subsidies for vacant space. All were voted down by Trustees Hoke and Dudek with no alternative and no willingness to work on alternatives. Just no. Trustee Hoke tried to make Lake and Lathrop a secret deal when the project was the result of an RFP process and discussed in public at many meetings, most which he failed to attend. They voted no on subsidies for vacant space at the Town Center and Trustee Dudek said it was %u201Cunnecessary%u201D because the economy is turning around and the space will be rented without the need for subsidies. The current board has begun working on economic development; the new improved board will be moving full speed ahead. One final thought, maybe %u201CThe Steve's%u201D would consider stepping aside so that the uncontested new board members could be appointed to fill their seats now and begin the work of the people 4 months early.

Tom from RF  

Posted: December 23rd, 2010 8:40 AM

Elected people are RESIDENTS of RF in this case, so they all want the best of course. However, if people are not watched, questioned and held accountable, they will make the EASY decisions. The EASY decisions are usually not the BEST decisions and lack ideation and leadership. Since people can not always attend meetings, those we elect are supposed to represent US by asking the HARD questions. That is what Dudek and Hoke did do well. More elected officials need to ask the tough questions!

J from River Forest  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 11:16 PM

If Dudek and Hoke are the only things keeping River Forest from becoming Melrose Park or Elmwood Park, then things have really gotten bad.


Posted: December 22nd, 2010 10:41 PM

I tend to agree with James on his assessment. Not much on style of what they did, but was in total agreement with the results. They asked hard questions, did not let people skate. However, do not agree with James on his assessment of RF becoming another MP. Look, the Board represents the people. In MP - they do not hold their leaders accountable. In RF, all you have to do is pick up the phone - our Village officials have to be held accountable - and be asked the Tough questions.

Bill Clay  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 8:38 PM

I heard "The Two Steve's" were moving to a rural area so they could incorporate their own town. I think the name is going to be "Stevesville". A town where nothing ever gets done.


Posted: December 22nd, 2010 8:01 PM

I never agreed with the way Dudek and Hoke went about things, but I ALWAYS appreciated what they did. They asked a lot of hard questions, stopped a lot of dumb things from happening, and always did what was right for the people of River Forest. This next board is now owned by John Rigas and Skip Saviano (remember Saviano's glowing endorsement of Rigas and his crew). Without any independent thinking trustees, we can expect River Forest government to go the way of Melrose Park and Elmwood Park.

Tom from RF  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 9:02 AM

At this blessed time of year - if you agreed with Dudek and Hoke or not - they deserve a shout out and THANK YOU for their pubic service and giving of their personal time (this takes a lot of time) to try and make RF a better village. Also, congratulations to Colleen, Susan, and Carmela!

Tom from RF  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 8:31 AM

With the minority voice gone, who will be the voice of the people? The entire Village will be watching for the reasoned voice of Ideation, Progress, and Results! Perhaps the Board can rally, for the betterment of RF residents and get a Strategic Plan developed. Hard to believe, but RF has no Strategy. RF needs real economic development (Sales and Property tax generating). RF needs a Economic Development Commission. The area is blessed with so many talented people - just ask.

Bill Clay  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 12:22 AM

Good Riddance !!

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2017

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments