How to move Oak Park forward

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Anan Abu-Taleb

My name is Anan Abu-Taleb and I am running for Oak Park village president.

I have lived in Oak Park for 23 years. My wife Margi and I own a home here and have sent our four children to Oak Park schools. For 17 years, I have owned and managed a business in Oak Park — first the restaurant Vivaldi and now Maya del Sol. Oak Park is my home, and I am running for village president because I am committed to what Oak Park stands for and I want to contribute to what it can be.

I have spent the last few months talking to business owners, government officials, and you, the residents of Oak Park. You've told me about your dreams for Oak Park, and we have talked about the things we must change to make it better.

Many of us came to Oak Park for similar reasons — the progressive community, the diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, the great schools, and the friendly neighborhoods. Many of us chose Oak Park to immerse our children in a culture that is respectful of others and provide them a life rich in diversity and opportunity.

After talking with you, it is clear we agree that to move Oak Park forward we cannot continue the status quo. We cannot continue to create ill-will among residents and business owners through parking restrictions that antagonize the people who live, work and shop here. We cannot continue imposing tax levies that significantly outpace inflation. We cannot continue investing in village-owned real estate, only to have those properties sit vacant and off the tax rolls. If we want a better Oak Park, then Oak Park needs to vote for a change.

As a businessman, I understand numbers. We can't spend money we don't have, and we must live within our means. Oak Park must broaden its tax base, reduce residents' tax burden and stop investing in projects we can't afford. Our taxing authorities must work together to identify redundant spending and reduce waste.

At the rate we are being taxed, we should expect a transparent, resourceful, and responsive government. Our government should deliver the best value for every tax dollar we pay. We should expect improvements that result in tangible benefits: great customer service, increased property values, lower tax burdens, and more efficient and less obstructive processes.

The question in this election is who has the vision, tenacity and leadership skills to shape a better Oak Park? I believe I do. And that's why I'm asking you to support me for village president.

The challenges we face may be daunting, but — to borrow a phrase — there is nothing wrong with Oak Park that cannot be solved by what is right with Oak Park. With the right leadership, I am confident that we, as a community, can be bigger than the challenges we face. I sincerely look forward to serving you.

Learn more at www.ananforoakpark.com

Reader Comments

36 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Undecided Voter  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 1:24 PM

Matt, I think you underestimate OP politics. lol Anan has his work cut out for him...and, to be honest, is going to have to do more to win. I don't think it is impossible. But it will be interesting to see how it plays out. If Anan were organized...he'd have a whole issues section up on the website for voters to see. Right now it's maybe 3-4 topics.

Matt on Madson  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 1:10 PM

I can't vote but im telling you look at each site and tell me how anyone could vote for the VMA candidates when they can't even update there website correctly. Its disappointing because Hedges is a good man (I don't know the rest). Just saying that I think If Anan is organized this will not be close.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 12:35 PM

Matt, if you go to Facebook the slate has almost 300 likes. And I suspect a lot of the ones for Anan are simply curious not votes per se. I know I'm following along, but that doesn't mean anybody has my vote yet.

Matt on Madison  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 11:35 AM

After checking the new site for the VMA canidates I still find it really embarrassing for the VMA. The VMA has 19 people that support there candidates and Anan has over 700 likes on Facebook. I can't vote but If i could its becoming quite clear who has the majority support and the VMA seems to be ground in the mud. can't wait for the lawn signs to see who wins that battle.

Matt On Madison  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 2:31 PM

Thanks i was looking at the VMA site which is god awful. This new site looks much better. I will check it out. The VMA may want to look at there site as that is where i went to find info on the candidates.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 2:28 PM

What concerns me about the VMA is that they supposedly evaluate potential candidates to serve on our various boards and back those candidates they approve of. But, is their vision of a prospective candidate the same as mine. If it isn't, we have a political party with more funding than individual candidates have to push their candidates through in an election. I don't know about you but this makes me uncomfortable.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 2:23 PM

@Matt Here is the VMA slate's website for the April 9th election. http://voteopt.org/

OK  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 2:12 PM

@Franklin, I believe that business people have more common sense than those who live and breathe using taxpayer money - because they have to - and that's enough for me. In this case, change is better than the devil we know. As to times the current board has turned on "ignore", I wasn't citing the Comcast thing (although seriously...ridiculous), and the list is too long to mention in as many characters as is allowed here! What are your examples of the opposite behavior?

Matt On Madison  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 1:51 PM

Franklin, I do not live in Oak Park but have worked hear for 20 years and decided to look at the candidates. Anan website is clean, he offers ideas and asks to hear from people. The VMA website has things from 4 years ago and no updates. Its pretty clear theirs going to be a new sheriff in town and I hope its for the better. I think it may be for the better to have a new set of eyes looking at things.

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 1:40 PM

ok@gmail.com, So why do you believe a total outsider with no local governance, planning or participation would listen to you. What I would encourage you to do is get a group together with common concerns. However, if you were slighted once because you didn't get your way (like the folks who were against the Comcast building) then I don't consider that the same thing. Give me some details...

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 1:38 PM

Also undecided, Hmm, so care to explain how Pope was elected his first term of President without the VMA backing? Have you ever been involved in the VMA, ever gone through a selection and election process with them? If not, I would encourage you to, so you are more informed. Personally, I am not a VMA member, but have a few friends who have been very involved. And have friends who are very anti-VMA as well. I like to see real evidence.

Ok@gmail.com  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 1:31 PM

@Franklin, I've been to the Village Board meetings. I've spoken up. And I've learned that the current leadership doesn't care to hear you if you are saying something different than their pre-conceived notions. They mentally put you on ignore while smiling and nodding and thanking you for being there. I'll show back up when there is someone who cares to listen.

Stop Corruption in Oak Park from Oak Park, Il  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 1:22 PM

copied from the Chicago Sun Times: Anan Abu-Taleb can thank ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich for the fact that he's no longer viewed by the State of Illinois as a tax cheat. In a little-noticed move in December 2006, Blagojevich pardoned the successful Oak Park restaurateur for a tax-fraud conviction. And the now-impeached governor took the unusual additional step of forever wiping that blemish from Abu-Taleb's record. Something else sets Abu-Taleb apart from those others: the campaign contributions th

Undecided Voter  

Posted: February 19th, 2013 6:38 AM

Plus, let's face it our commission system is clunky. Why should a candidate have to work up some arbitrary ladder of service or worship at the feet of the VMA? BUT an outsider needs to have a complete vision for the Village...not sure that's Anan. Which, I think, is leaving many of us unhappy with either side.

Also Undecided from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 18th, 2013 10:20 PM

@Franklin: The VMA has such a control over the village government that there isn't a non-VMA person who could meet your stated qualifications. Any resident who wants a shot at measurable change or improvement wouldn't vote for a VMA candidate. Not sold on Anan, but the fact that he's outside that machine alone may earn my sole vote in this election. I would more likely vote for Jesse Jackson Jr than clueless Trustee Luecke. Are you, by chance, a VMA member yourself?

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2013 5:14 PM

Janus, Can you provide an example of of individuals that "have had good practical experience and little involvement" When was the last time we had a Village President that had not already been a Trustee and/or served on Comissions, the School Board, etc. None.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: February 18th, 2013 4:03 PM

@Fred What does old taxes, pardons, and campaign contributions have to do with whether or not we review our parking policies? Or improve village services? Stick to the issues, not slime.

Oakpark Fred from Oakpark  

Posted: February 18th, 2013 3:34 PM

Seriously, are people considering voting for this guy who paid off Blogo to get a pardon for his tax evasion conviction? Don't we need someone HONEST in Oak Park? If you are considering this crook, please do some research. Thanks you. http://chicagoist.com/2009/05/04/blago_netted_cash_from_pardon.php

Janus  

Posted: February 12th, 2013 10:00 AM

Interestingly the board composition of the past 12 years have included a large number of individuals that have had good practical experience and little involvement. Village Presidents have run on outsider and insider platforms and past performance on committees, commissions and boards has never been an indication of future performance.

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 10th, 2013 8:48 PM

Speedway, While I am sure there is substance in what you are saying, provide some specifics. What "over the top programs?" What "lack of transparency?" Furthermore, its not just about making your voice heard, its also about getting together with fellow residents to make your concerns heard.

Undecided   

Posted: February 10th, 2013 8:05 AM

My problem with the village is that it seems entirely disconnected from resident needs. That doesn't start with the Trustees per se. But they could direct village hall to fix it. The services need improvement and we need more of them. The new composting is a great start, but the village seems so caught up in protocol that the essentials don't get done. I'll vote for whoever promises to fill the potholes in my alley.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 8:10 PM

cont. with our schools but it seems we have attracted not residents interested in the community as a place for life but only for the school term. Extremely disappointing to me and a surprise. OP was never like this before. I don't know what the answer is, but the more I see, the waste, the overspending, the over the top programs that benefit so few, the lack of transparency in govern. For the first time I am not a proud OPer and have serious doubts of spending the rest of my life here.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 8:04 PM

FYI Frankin, been there, done that. Spent some time and a lot of effort over the D200 surplus. In my neck of OP, nobody gets the WJ, almost all were unaware of the surplus, everyone in my area were invited to D200 board meeting and nobody came. The amount of apathy or possibly fear that their kids education would be affected has caused what should be a big issue a non-entity. Response from many were that they were leaving OP when their kids were out of school. OP had made a name for itself

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 6:58 PM

Furthermore, to all you who complain about taxes, the Village Board has steadily decreased the Village's portion of the taxes over the years. Taxes are lower than they were in 2006. If you wanna complain about taxes, its the school's tax levy. Go complain to the School Boards. Neither Anan, nor Hedges can do anything about another taxing bodies levy.

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 6:55 PM

I wonder how many of you have showed up at the Village Board meetings to express your concerns. Its YOUR government. Being the Local government your voice is quite powerful. Get a few friends together and you can probable get anything done. But it seems that many of you would rather make complaints online, instead of to the faces of the Trustees. I still stand that if Ana wanted to impact Oak Park he can do it many ways. Learn about the GOV first, serve on a commission, become a Trustee.

FYI  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 5:36 PM

Wait until he gets a taste of how difficult and complicated it all really is. Nothing's as simple as it may look. And private business models do not apply to municipal governance, no matter how much we might want them to.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 4:01 PM

Devil's advocate here--how will Anan improve Oak Park? Just being against Hedges & the status quo doesn't mean much. Will Anan increase police patrols? Fix the sewers? Convince the Board to stand on their heads & do the hokey pokey? How would Anan increase sustainability? How is he going to improve services? Let's hear both sides on the issues.

Senior Citizen  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 9:26 AM

45 years ago, I moved to Oak Park and I have never seen Oak Park in such dire straits. Years of mismanagement and a philosophy of raising taxes so as to avoid actually solving problems has forever altered the village I love. Anan may be new to politics, but when the status quo isn't working, then it is time for a change. I'm voting for Anan.

Jlewitt from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2013 9:23 AM

Done - you want substance? What exactly has the current board done? Spent money to conduct a nationwide search only to end up with the same employee they already had? Hire the same firm to find a lawyer when Oak Park has numerous lawyers? I for one would like the current board to take some initiative and actually do something - anything - on their own. If Anan can shake things up, even a little, we will be moving in the right direction. Hedges certainly hasn't shown Oak Park much initiative.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 3:33 PM

I hesitate to vote for Anan because I doubt he can sway the current Board members to his position. At least with Hedges we may avoid gridlock. That is my concern, Done, is more substance. The VMA slate has a whole series of platform planks. Now let's see what else Anan stands for.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 3:24 PM

"As a businessman, I understand numbers. We can't spend money we don't have, and we must live within our means. Oak Park must broaden its tax base, reduce residents' tax burden and stop investing in projects we can't afford. Our taxing authorities must work together to identify redundant spending and reduce waste." - From "Running for Public Office 101". Nothing against him, but a little more substance would be nice.

Concerned from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 2:16 PM

I like Hedges, but Anan is the candidate with the vision and strength of character to work for Oak Park every day. His reputation as a worker is exemplified in his restaurant. Oak Park needs someone who is willing to get his hands dirty and wade into the details of governing. Hedges and the other trustees are great caretakers of the status quo, but Oak Park needs a change.

Lilly from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 2:07 PM

I have three kids. When we moved to Oak Park, I was so happy. I knew my kids would be going to the best schools money could buy. And I was thrilled I found those schools in such a diverse and welcoming community. But taxes have gone UP every year since I moved here. And our schools aren't better, our streets aren't safer. Hedges can't tell us what he's done with our money - and he doesn't seem able to tell us what he would do differently.

Thomas from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 2:05 PM

Anan - I deeply appreciate your commitment to Oak Park. As the recent village manager search, the new village lawyer search, and the same old parking and permit obstacles attest - - the status quo can no longer work for Oak Park. I'm eager to learn more about you, but I think it is time for a change!

Undecided voter  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 2:56 PM

I don't hold it against Anan that he hasn't been on a committee or didn't run for Trustee first. But I do need to hear more ideas. I look forward to seeing a lively discussion about who can best serve as Village President. Who can do the most for me as a resident? Mr. Hedges, I look forward to hearing from you as well!

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 2:38 PM

Anan, I will personally say I am concerned about your run. If you are interested in the local government why haven't you been involved in the Citizen committees? Why are you running for President as opposed to Trustee? Why not learn more about the government and board first, before you seek to lead it? Lastly, I am unsure how you will address the Village tax levy. The Village's portion of the Tax levy has decreased much over the years.If you want to address the tax levy,look at the schools

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