River Forest Trustees , 3 seats, 4-year term

Election guide 2005

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By WEDNESDAY JOURNAL STAFF

Nancy Dillon

Priorities: A lifelong resident of River Forest, Dillon is a retired schoolteacher and active volunteer who was first elected as village trustee in 1989 and is now seeking her fifth term.

She cites "continuity" as a primary issue in this campaign, saying she wants to continue a course of positive action she's been proud to be a part of over the past 12 to 16 years.

Dillon has said that among the top challenges facing next board are keeping real estate taxes down through redevelopment of the North Avenue and Madison Street business districts, adequate parking for residents, completion of the Lake Street Corridor beautification, and the rewriting of the village's zoning codes.

A supporter of current President Frank Paris, she has said that the role of the village president is to moderate the role of trustees. The trustees, she said, bring up ideas, and the president adds to them.

Quote: "We must show a welcoming attitude to businesses in our village."

Russ Nummer

Priorities: Nummer, a River Forest resident since 1974, when he joined the village's fire department, retired as Fire Chief last August. He is currently a forensic fire investigator and consultant to insurance companies, and continues to train firefighters and police officers as fire scene investigators.

A self-described independent, Nummer has said that he's the only local independent with experience in public safety issues and team-building processes. He's expressed concern with what he terms a lack of initiative on the part of the current board to bring forth issues for deliberation. As far as the relative roles of trustee and president, Nummer said that effective governance should be a "team effort," but reiterated that the board must take more initiative.

Major issues currently facing the village, he said, are fire codes dating back to 1990, public participation, and the morale of the village's public safety departments.

Nummer has also called for greater citizen participation in village governance, saying that he doesn't believe that qualified individuals are being called to service.

Quote: "I don't think there's been a lot of effort to bring new businesses in to town."

Patrick O'Brien

Priorities: O'Brien, who moved to River Forest as a teenager, owns and operates a long-term care facility in Chicago. He has served as a trustee for six years, and as village clerk prior to that. He contends that the village must be kept on the same track it's been on the past 12 years, which he praises as a period of solid and positive growth.

O'Brien sees economic development along North Avenue and on Madison Street as crucial to the village's continued success, calling such development "the engine that moves the village forward." To that end, he stresses that village government must create "an amenable atmosphere" for business in the village.

Equally important, he contends, is maintaining the strength of the village's schools and parks, which he said gives the village its unique character.

Of the village president's role in government affairs, O'Brien, who calls himself a strong Paris supporter, though not always in lockstep, said it's the president's role to bring issues before the board in conjunction with administrative staff.

Quote: "People come [to River Forest] knowing they'll get good police, fire, public works, health, etc."

James Winikates

Priorities: Winikates, who moved to River Forest in 1981, is a retired certified public accountant who recently stepped down as chairman of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago. He is enrolled in the Graduate School of Business at Dominican University, with plans to graduate with an MBA in 2006.

He has served on numerous civic groups, and has as served as president of both the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation and the Community Chest of Oak and River Forest.

A self-proclaimed independent, he said he is not seeking to be a village trustee because of any particular challenge facing the board, but to "continue my involvement to improve the quality of life in my community."

He has said that the biggest issue facing the village is the revamp of its zoning laws, particularly as they relate to teardowns. Winikates also said that the board must create "a climate" in which businesses can operate within the rules. Noting that the village president doesn't cast a vote, Winikates said it's the trustees who really make the decisions, and that they must be able to work together effectively." 

Quote: "I believe my experience as a certified public accountant will enable me to...assist the board in considering the financial considerations of decisions."

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