One year ago Anan Abu-Taleb and John Hedges were locked in an intense election battle to win Oak Park's village presidency. A key campaign issue was the state of Oak Park's economic development effort.
Abu-Taleb won the president's seat by a 17-point margin. A year later radically remaking economic development structures is Abu-Taleb's most notable accomplishment.
But Monday morning, Abu-Taleb turned to his friend and former rival to fill the key vacancy at the remade Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (EDC) as this group's board unanimously chose Hedges as its Interim Executive Director.
Hedges was chosen by the EDC's Executive Committee which includes Abu-Taleb. Hedges agreed to the position over the weekend and will join the company next Monday.
In a press release issued jointly by Marty Noll, chair of the EDC and Abu-Taleb, Hedges was listed as one of nearly a dozen candidates reviewed by EDC board members. "He clearly emerged as the leading candidate because of his long association with organizations in the community and his understanding of Village government," said the release.
Hedges served a village trustee for six years working on the village's Economic Development and Finance Committees. He once served as acting village manager and ran the Park District of Oak Park for many years.
"We are most fortunate to have been able to name John as our interim executive director," said Noll in the release. "John brings decades of management experience and an understanding of the village and its role in economic development."
Abu-Taleb echoed Noll's comments. "John's agreeing to lead the EDC during its reinvigoration is very important to the village and to me personally. John and I learned much about each other during the campaign. I have great confidence that he is the right person to lead the EDC at this time. He knows how much economic development means to our village."
Hedges will lead the company during the next few months while it recruits a permanent executive director.