By Anna Lothson
The race for River Forest's next village president has two board members who once ran together on a slate. Four years later, they are pitted against one other for the top spot.
Mike Gibbs, an Oak Park native who moved to River Forest in 1989, said he's a hands-on kind of leader, working with the person, who listens to multiple perspectives before reaching a decision. He enjoyed running with Cathy Adduci as a trustee, but as a candidate, his view has changed.
Adduci, a 15-year-resident, is banking on her three decades of executive leadership at large corporations to be the factor that sets her apart as the best candidate. She said that from the start she reached out to the other candidates to have a meeting about running a "clean campaign," but Gibbs didn't feel a private meeting was necessary.
With both these candidates, the difference is in the details. Gibbs doesn't trust Adduci's background, suggesting her ties to her separated husband, controversial Springfield lobbyist Al Ronan, warrant closer scrutiny. Adduci has run her campaign focusing on herself as an independent leader and businesswoman who knows how to work with people.
Come April 9, River Forest voters will settle the issue. Here's a summary of the candidates' views and what they hope to bring to the position:
Gibbs: 'I don't make empty promises'
His opponent: "The biggest thing that separates me from Cathy Adduci is I've done for the last four years what I'm going to do for the next four years. Cathy's claims are false. For the last four years, I've been the one showing the leadership. Cathy has yet to bring a single topic to the board. She said she wants civic involvement, but she's brought no recommendations to the president. All six of the recommendations I've brought to the board have been implemented. I do what I say I'm going to do. I don't make empty promises."
Campaign and leadership: "My style of leadership is to get as much information as possible and make decisions after speaking to everyone. … Leadership is from the front, it's not just going along. There's a big difference from being a trustee and a president. It's what I've done versus what she says she'll do. … There are two candidates. One never has testified for a federal corruption trial. Do we want that in Rive Forest? I'm not ripping her personally. I'm testifying to her character. … She's on the fringe of truthfulness."
Goals: Complete sewer projects, Lake and Lathrop development, finalizing TIF funds, address ongoing budget concerns, sit down with Hines purchaser. "My goals are simple: Ensuring financial responsibility and seeking out potential economic development for our village while maintaining our traditional and current village quality of life."
Adduci: 'More collaborative decisions'
Vision: "I've stuck with my vision. It hasn't changed. I'm working for a better community, better principles. I want to listen more and invite more residents to conversations and invite more residents to [help] make tough decisions. I want to make more collaborative decisions and look to do more economic development. I want to begin and form an economic commission. … Residents really want a positive, collaborative board. … They want us to work together. We don't have to be divisive. We can all work together real well."
Campaign and leadership: I think my message is really resonating with the villagers. They want a better, more efficient government. … With residents, I think my message is one residents want to do. … I've kept [the campaign] very positive. I reached out to all candidates from the very start. … Some of us did and some of us didn't. I've always been looking at the positive. As far as my opposition, people in River Forest are smart, independent thinkers. They want to hear what you will do in the next four years, what are your ideas — not what's wrong with your opponent."
Goals: Implement the strategic plan; increase collaboration between governing bodies; economic development; form an economic commission; keep the community safe; run an effective, efficient and transparent government; stabilize property taxes and maintain financial stability.
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