2005 Wednesday Journal Endorsements
New ideas, new faces, new energy and new blood are in order for the Oak Park Public Library board, where none of the incumbents are running for the four available seats. The library is in good shape with an acclaimed new main building, a renovated Dole Branch, and plans in place for extensive Maze Branch renovations.
To take the library further ahead, we endorse Jim Egeberg, Matthew Fruth, Dee Leonard, and Mila Tellez.
The other two candidates, though very different, aren't bad choices either. Richard Akin would make a fine library trustee, and, in fact, already has?#34;for eight years (1993-2001). But he's been there, done that, and his financial expertise would be made redundant by the presence of newcomer Egeberg, who is finance director for Des Plaines. Egeberg is sharp, interested, has kids who use the system, and is looking to get more involved in community affairs after a positive experience serving on the Parks Infrastructure Committee. He is exactly the kind of young talent the library board needs.
And speaking of youth, Matthew Fruth (son of outgoing board member Steven Fruth) is only 26, but shows considerable maturity. He would bring a welcome perspective to the board and is committed to representing the community's youth.
Dee Leonard, on the other hand, is energetic, enthusiastic, and wants to represent the voice of the community's seniors.
Mila Tellez has been involved politically behind the scenes for the last five years and is just now stepping forward to run for office. One of the founders of REDCOOP (Responsible Economic Development-Citizens of Oak Park), she was a supporter of the new building referendum and has the most creative ideas for moving the new library forward, including partnerships with the local universities, and creating a board of associates to focus on more aggressive fundraising and recruitment of volunteers. She also has ideas for making the rather sterile library entryway more user-friendly.
The other candidate, Paul Gannello, is as earnest as the day is long. As a strong advocate for library workers (he supports a union) and opponent of outsourcing (he lost his job when the library privatized custodial services), his voice shouldn't be dismissed. But we feel the other candidates have a wider scope to bring to the board table.