For the last 28 years my wife, Marylouise and I have lived in Oak Park with our two children, Sarah and Nic. We decided to raise a family here because of the community's rich history of diversity, excellent schools and enlightened form of governance. Over the last few years we have become increasingly concerned that the values that drew us to Oak Park have come under attack. Real estate taxes have risen dramatically, threatening the diverse population on which Oak Park prides itself, and the contentious nature of the village trustees' interactions, at best limits good decision-making and policy leadership.
In my experience as a retired senior executive with Inland Steel, and now as Executive Director of Economic Development for the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago (an organization led by the top senior executives of the region's largest companies and institutions), I know first hand the importance of strong thoughtful leadership, good planning and analysis, and the need to seek out diverse opinions in any community building process. To that end, I was privileged to work with David Pope, who now is running for Oak Park Village President, and saw how David successfully used these principles and good management practices to move forward a major economic development planning initiative for Chicago's diverse mid-south area.
David was brought on by an affiliate of the Civic Committee to lead a team of economic development professionals in analyzing and developing a retail and affordable housing strategy for a racially and economically diverse community on Chicago's south side. It was a difficult project, in part because of its technical complexity, but more importantly because of the various constituencies and political interests involved.
I was very impressed with David's work on many fronts. Most apparent was the passion and energy he brought to this project; it was obvious that he truly cared for this community's residents and the challenges that they faced in their daily lives. In terms of his technical capabilities, his skill at synthesizing and distilling high level issues into specific and concrete action plans was impressive and was vital to the success of the project. Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, David has a unique ability to seek out and achieve consensus among people and groups with seemingly different interests.
While I have never taken an active role in Oak Park politics previously, what I have seen of David Pope's skills and character has driven me to assume a leadership position in his campaign. I know that he can and will make a difference.
Treasurer, Citizens for David Pope