Oak Park is about to have a legitimate contest for village president. Several weeks back, the Village Manager Association chose John Hedges as its candidate for the post. On Monday, Anan Abu-Taleb, owner of Maya del Sol restaurant, told the Journal he, too, would run for village president.
We are admirers of both men, and it is months too early for any endorsement. But it is not too early to cheer a contested election between two individuals who are bright, dedicated and forward-looking. Oak Park is overdue for a genuine debate over the future of our village and with Abu-Taleb and Hedges, we anticipate just that.
And we'd interject that with three weeks before the filing deadline for the April election, it isn't too late for another candidate, or more, to join this needed conversation.
Abu-Taleb is a longtime Oak Parker — 23 years. With his wife, they have raised four kids here. And he has the uncommon experience for a local candidate of owning a business in town. That is an interesting perspective and one worth hearing.
What we find particularly appealing about Abu-Taleb is that while he is a critic of some aspects of local governance, for him this isn't personal. He isn't running against the VMA and its supposed impregnability. He is enthused about Oak Park's past achievements in diversity, but he isn't running to take Oak Park backward to some imagined magical moment of our past. He is, like most business people, looking ahead and with some optimism.
It seems clear that both Hedges and Abu-Taleb will campaign on a pledge of greater fiscal responsibility while not denigrating the proper role of village government in our lives. And we are confident, knowing both men, that this will be an energetic but civil debate.
Thanks, in advance to both John Hedges and Anan Abu-Taleb for putting their names forward.