By Dan Haley
Terry Finnegan, the sole OPRF school board incumbent in the April election, will not be planting any lawn signs. He won't be printing any brochures. Instead he suggests that you take any money you might have donated to his campaign and "take your family out for dinner" or "maybe make a donation to Hephzibah or Sarah's Inn or another one of our great local charities."
"The last thing we need," he said, "is more lawn signs."
Finnegan, who is also the current OPRF school board president, will attend most local election forums, is coming to the Journal's endorsement interview, and would welcome your vote.
But if you sense a certain ambivalence on his part about the coming election, you'd be right. If he is re-elected that would be fine, though he says the job of being a school board member is thankless and time-consuming. If he isn't chosen, but four smart, rational citizens get the nod, then that would be OK with him. The worry for him, and for the rest of us, is that not all the stars in the District 200 election pantheon this spring shine either as bright or as rationally as others.
That said, Finnegan's view is that, overall, there are several high-quality candidates among the 13 who remain in the race and that there is considerable diversity in the group, which is important to him because "there are three exceptional women about to leave the board."
It was a few weeks ago that I was chatting at an Oak Park charitable event with two savvy local political people. One person said the D200 race was shaking down into a two-tier race. I asked him to name the top tier and he readily did. The other person pointed out that he hadn't included Terry Finnegan. And the response was that was because Finnegan wasn't actually running for office; he was just sort of going through the motions.
I emailed Finnegan soon thereafter, expecting some sort of sharp retort. But instead got back the same sort of thoughtful response about the aspects of being on the board he likes. He's a big fan of Supt. Steven Isoye and enjoys working closely with him; he sees himself as a moderating voice on a board that is getting stronger. But he described running an actual campaign as "odious" and, in a phone call Monday, said he had no ego gratification on the line whether he wins or loses. "I'll gladly do the job again if I am elected," he said.
Curious and oddly appealing.
A reminder that on Wednesday night at the main library, the Journal will be hosting a discussion with the two candidates for Oak Park village president — John Hedges and Anan Abu-Taleb. We start at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Room.
The earth-moving equipment is beginning to gather at Ridgeland Common for the coming and long-planned remaking of the park and the ice facilities. Doesn't mean there isn't still a moment to stage a protest over the perceived unfairness, secrecy and inside dealing of the park district in making its plans. Of course that is all wrong. But petition and protest away. However, even for me, there are two aspects of this outrage that are too, too much. Les Golden pretending to be another person in order to gain a meeting with the park district director is freaking weird even for Les Golden, who lives his life in that orbit. And the strong suggestion that the park district is unethical and elitist because it actively works with the youth soccer and baseball parents is just stupid. These dedicated volunteers don't constitute a special interest; these are the people who are the bedrock of our village.