Although I have steadfastly supported the Village Manager Association process and candidates for over 25 years, in this election I cannot.
As a member of the VMA since 1976, I am committed to our process of candidate selection and Village Management. No election process is more open, free of local intrigues and corruption. Over the years this methodology has served the village well. I know of no other that has the level of citizen involvement and pride. How lucky I feel to live in such vibrant, activist community, a place of principle and vitality.
The job of our village board of trustees is to identify critical issues, solicit citizen input, build local consensus, set policy, and monitor our Village Manager and staff as they implement the will of the board. If anything we expect our trustees and particularly our board president to be effective communicators. They give voice to the various points of view before the community.
In this election we had few candidates willing to step forward to offer their services to the community. Many are well aware that the commitment to serve on the board of trustees has gotten out of hand. This board has met entirely too much. Any qualified candidate would certainly have to think twice before committing to the time crushing demands. How can anyone hope to balance their career, family life and volunteerism, when the board workload has become so extreme?
Past village presidents have been more successful in organizing the work of the board. Their leadership allowed the process to be fulfilled without devastating their other life commitments. Above all their leadership styles were inspirational.
Our best past presidents have been effective public communicators, builders of coalitions and consensus, and strong lobbyists for Oak Park with State and Federal legislatures and their staffs. Effective leadership demands an individual who will work well with the board and the community.
Given a choice between Diane Carpenter, David Pope and Robert Milstein, I must support David Pope. As a successful management consultant, he is intelligent, and experienced in building consensus while allowing for a respectful exchange between competing interests. I can feel confident that issues will be thoroughly understood, before decisions are made. Of all the candidates, he has the most promise of streamlining the work to be done. Of all the candidates, I believe he will be the most successful builder of bridges that divides our board members as well as between the board and the community. More than any other skill, the ability to build consensus will be our new president's most critical success factor. David Pope will get results.