I would like to thank Wednesday Journal for its endorsement of my candidacy for village president. Yet it is voters, not newspapers, who will determine the election on April 9. Experience has been a major issue in this campaign. As the endorsement pointed out, I am the experienced candidate who can make change happen. Why should that make the difference in your voting decision?
First, in my experience on the board for the past six years, I have a solid record as a fiscal conservative. I've challenged village staff to do more with less, but at the same time to be more customer-friendly. I have challenged colleagues on school and park boards to work together to save taxpayers money, and our local development officials to take a more rational, forward-looking approach. We've made progress on these issues, but there is more work to be done. When I say those will be my priorities as your village president, it's not idle talk. It will happen.
Second, I will be able to lead this board because I will have the support of the trustees. I have earned their respect and trust as a colleague, and the feeling is mutual. We have not always agreed on everything, including budget issues, streetscaping, and development on Madison Street, and I expect there will be disagreements ahead. But I do expect to have their support on major initiatives because we share the same priorities for moving Oak Park forward.
Finally, when unforeseen issues arise, as they do with amazing frequency, you need a president and trustees who have proven they have the judgment to make decisions in the best interest of the entire community, without derailing their broader priorities. When those tough decisions arise, you can trust that I have the experience to make sound decisions in your interest based on my years of civic engagement in Oak Park, my understanding of the myriad of interests that exist in our community, my appreciation of our heritage, and my optimism about our future.
My opponent has tried to convince you that Oak Park is in crisis. The fact is, our community is thriving and well positioned as the broader economy continues to improve. The village is in its best financial position in years. Since I've been on the board, our parking fund debt has been reduced by $7 million; we have built reasonable cash reserves; we've maintained a strong bond rating. Downtown Oak Park was just selected as one of the best in the Chicago area. New businesses are opening every week. These are the facts and these are the real accomplishments that we will build on over the next four years.
On Election Day, experienced, tested leadership really does matter. I am the experienced candidate who can keep Oak Park moving forward. We can't do that by standing still or spinning our wheels with those who need on-the-job training. I ask for your vote on April 9 and commit to always putting Oak Park first. Visit www.voteopt.org to send in a question and to view our Oak Park Together Action Plans.
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