2005 Wednesday Journal Endorsements
Of all the candidates we saw, we were most impressed with Greg Marsey. Marsey has been actively involved in economic development, most notably in opposing Whiteco, and we at first worried that he would be a one-issue candidate.
We disagree with him on Whiteco, but we believe he is prepared to help effectively address the process that made Whiteco such an angst-ridden mess. He's avoided many of the flamboyant and self-destructive tactics of others, such as yelling, screaming and demanding that the village president resign. He is optimistic about opportunities to improve government, and appears to be quite capable of looking ahead rather than dwelling on the past. He represents a healthy compromise between a staunch VMA-style of governance and over-the-top VCA grandstanding.
He's intelligent and a good listener who is prepared to question policy, but who will also be respectful of village staff, fellow board members and the business community. He's opinionated, but not too quick to judge.
Some may have already labeled him as just an anti-development candidate, but we think he is a deep thinker who will bring much more to the board than a gripe with a 14-story building.
? We enthusiastically endorsed Mas Takiguchi for trustee two years ago. We're not quite as excited about him this time around, but still think he will make an excellent board member. We were a little concerned with a certain bitterness and negativity he exhibited in our interview.
However, he has a strong background in finance and housing, and has had the benefit of having worked with the village as the head of a partner agency. We think he has a good sense of how to get things done without getting unnecessarily bogged down in process. We think he can get along with a wide variety of personalities and take a creative approach to problem-solving.
? Martha Brock is our "wild card" candidate. She doesn't have the stellar qualifications that many of these candidates deliver. Because of that, she has the potential to be easily co-opted by other board members, notably Milstein, on matters such as the budget. She acknowledges that she's been a "yeller and screamer" as an "advocate," especially on educational matters.
However, this newspaper has been calling endlessly for strong black leadership on this board. And the question before us now is what that should look like.
The African-American community in Oak Park is not homogenous. Brock would bring a genuine voice that has not been heard on any village board.
She is a renter. She's passionate, seemingly above all, about preserving economic diversity in Oak Park, something that affects her personally. For Brock, affordability is much more than a talking point.
If she is elected, Brock would need strong mentoring, which we think she will find.
Sometimes, and in this case, we believe a loud, fresh voice is more important than a resume.
? Geoff Baker is certainly a very intelligent candidate who is quite capable of holding a seat on the village board. He was, however, too vague for our tastes when discussing policy. Working more closely with the Austin community on development is good. But his notion that to do that, the board should just send Mike Chen over there to chat with people just doesn't cut it. Overall, he stuck a little too closely to the generic talking points on the New Leadership Party platform.
While we agree with some of his assessments on past village mistakes and successes, we're tired of hearing about the Whiteco subsidy and the TIF extension. Those issues are dead. We want to hear what's next and Baker didn't deliver.
? Ray Barbosa is certainly qualified to be a trustee. He's smart and extremely capable of making well-reasoned decisions. We expect that he would work well with a wide variety of personalities. However, he struck us as unenthusiastic about the job. We heard a little too much about his qualifications and too little about his ideas and strategies for making Oak Park a better place. If he is committed to serving Oak Park, there are places he can start short of the village board.
? Dorothy Reid is an obvious candidate. She has a long history of involvement in, and an understanding of, Oak Park. But we've been down this road when we endorsed her for the District 97 school board several years ago. She was a placeholder on that board, having little to contribute. It is not the basis for enthusiasm this time.