15 to run in Oak Park and River Forest High School board election


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More than a dozen hopefuls will run for the Oak Park and River Forest High School board next April.

The names include public officials who've held other municipal offices, current parents and one incumbent. Terry Finnegan, the current board president is seeking a second term. Incumbents Amy McCormack, Dietra Millard and Valerie Fisher are not running again. Jeff Weissglass, a member of the Collaboration for Early Childhood, and Eric Davis, a trustee with the Oak Park Township, both previously announced they were running for the OPRF school board. The remaining field includes River Forest resident Barbara Langer, an outspoken critic of the school's large fund balance.

Oak Park resident John Bokum was unsuccessful in his run in spring 2011 but is taking another stab this time around. A regular visitor to the board's monthly public meetings, Bokum has been critical of late of the board's recent levy tax increase, which was approved two week's ago. Steven Gevinson, a former OPRF English teacher and division chair, is running, as is OPRF parent Melanie McQueen. Gevinson is the father of teen fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, who attends the high school.

The rest of the candidate field is: David Perkovich, Paula Halpin, Thomas Cofsky, Julie MacCarthy, Robert M. Gale, Steven Nations, Beatrice Fung, and Jackie Moore.

The District 97 school board race will be uncontested as incumbents James Gates and Amy Felton will run as a slate. Gates is running for a second term. Felton is eyeing her first full term after being appointed a year ago to serve out the remaining term of former member Jennifer Reddy, who resigned her seat. The third open seat is expected to be filled by Graham Brisben, the only other candidate to file for the D97 race.

The spring 2013 election is Tuesday, April 9.

Reader Comments

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Posted: December 31st, 2012 1:23 PM

@Bill. I'm not implying that any one deliberately set out to maximize candidates, but that the opposition to the status quo candidates (and Finnegan will be running with a semi-slate) will potentially/likely be diluted and that a divide and conquer "strategy" will benefit incumbents - who might only need 35% of the vote to win. That would be tragic.

Bill from Forest Park  

Posted: December 31st, 2012 1:06 PM

"Unfortunately," You say "This divide and conquer "strategy" can and likely will be utilized by Finnegan and others to secure their victory"? How is the fact that candidate petitions number nearly four people for every seat up for election a "strategy"? There were three people announced for the D200 board prior to the dust up over the levy. Then several opponents urged people angry about the tax hike to run for the board, which numerous people did. That's Finnegan's doing how?


Posted: December 31st, 2012 11:06 AM

Citizen X has a very valid point - with so many people running for the board (a record) - how do we prevent this from diluting the opposition to the status quo? This divide and conquer "strategy" can and likely will be utilized by Finnegan and others to secure their victory and "business as usual" will continue. I know that eventually opposition "slates" will emerge but the PTO-types will organize and be victorious via dilution. WJ endorsements will also be important. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Citizen X  

Posted: December 30th, 2012 10:29 PM

And let the circus begin...

OPRF Achievement Gap  

Posted: December 30th, 2012 8:09 PM

@ rj, do you read @parent comment. It is too crazy. This same person, no doubt supported Obama recently. Redistributin is All OK to them -- until it hits them in the a--. People, wake up - this is what you get in a one party system. It has totally captured OP, Illinois and now the US. Remember the saying, "elections have consequences"


Posted: December 30th, 2012 1:42 PM

Redistribution of wealth - most of you voted for it in 2008 & again in 2012. This is what it looks like - up close & personal. You haven't seen anything yet. You've given Illinois this mandate for decades - one party system. Voting has its consequences.

A. Parent  

Posted: December 30th, 2012 11:54 AM

Referendum to rescind recent tax increase? Let's do it. Tell me where to start. Must change the deplorable practice of a few school board members voting tax increases affecting over 50,000 Oak Park residents who are alreadty overtaxed. How dare board members be so arrogant as to ignore the constituency who made itself heard before the vote. Citizens Unite!

Donna Peel from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 29th, 2012 3:03 PM

Whoops, just found Terry Finnegan's letter to the editor. Anything to add?

Donna Peel from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 29th, 2012 3:01 PM

With this many smart and community-responsible people on the board voting for the increase, I would like to know the argument for it. There's not a good explanation in the press yet for those of us who can't go to all these meetings. Can someone explain?

David W Ristau from Lahaina and River Forest  

Posted: December 29th, 2012 10:59 AM

15 people running for the OPRF board? GREAT!!! Having lived through the election process and actually serving a term on the board, I offer my own 2 cents to the candidates: You live here and your actions affect your neighbors. You have the ability to reduce tax burdens when you have ample reserves. You are choosing to be in a hot seat subject to a lot of arm chair quarterbacks; vote your convictions and speak your truth. And remember, your neighbors are counting on you for sincerity.

OPRF Achievement   

Posted: December 28th, 2012 9:20 PM

Group Think is a Great way to describe citizen members of an elected body. They try and think they are just like all others in town, yet they neglect to keep the transparency that is required. They fall into the trap o beliving what staff tells them. Not enough work behind the scenes.

Lanny from Oak Park  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 9:09 PM

Can we introduce a referendum to rescind the tax hike they voted in? You know it would pass in a flash!

Nick Kalogeresis from Oak Park  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 8:58 PM

Fire Finnegan and his tax happy colleagues! I will volunteer for anyone running against this arrogant group of know-it-alls..


Posted: December 28th, 2012 8:26 PM

@OPRF Achievement. I'm not sure what you're referring to, but I agree with your comment regarding lack of transparency. As I've posted several times recently, IMO, this board (and most in OP, RF, etc), even with a lot of very bright adults, have succumbed to "group think" and omnipotence. Think back to Ms. Leavy's comments. A former member of the board and I well recall her being infected with "group think," too. Gosh, look how they treat Sharon Patchak-Laymen - they don't appreciate dissent!

clean house  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 6:07 PM

Fire Finnegan

OPRF Student against the RIF  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 5:42 PM

Very disappointed that Amy McCormack is not seeking reelection... The 1 member of the board that actually talks about her decisions and meets with the community! Some great candidates are running but still sad to lose her on the board. The one who REALLY needs to step down is Dr. Ralph Lee.... The one who when asked to participate in discussion always denies and sits in the background on his tablet. Shameful behavior and action from this board. Hope the next one is MUCH more aware and open!

OPRF Achievement Gap  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 4:29 PM

@unfortunately, how do you know, this is not needed? We don't - because the Board shares next to nothing, No Transparency.


Posted: December 28th, 2012 1:59 PM

I VERY much look forward to the upcoming election - and learning more about the selfless individuals (even the incumbent, Finnegan) who are willing to serve on the OPRF board. I personally thank each one and hope that the election will bring needed change ON THE MARGINS to this otherwise excellent institution. FWIW, yes, my primary concern is the insulting tax rate, surplus balance, and wages/benefits of employees.

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