By John Hubbuch
I must admit I wasn't very interested in the local elections. Having lived here since 1976, I have voted in and observed a lot of these celebrations of participatory democracy. This election was typical — low turnout, a number of uncontested contests and a couple of contests that "will shape the future of the villages."
You could have been Oak Park village president with 3,321 votes or River Forest village president with 866 votes. There was no contest in District 97 and barely one in District 90 or for the Oak Park Public Library Board. All of which supports my thesis that the majority of citizens like living here and are pretty satisfied with local government.
Of course, there are those who do not share this consensus. Maybe they're right, but then maybe they would have been dissatisfied with the Garden of Eden, pre-serpent.
Now restaurateur Anan Abu-Taleb's beatdown of VMA candidate John Hedges was kind of noteworthy. The VMA has run the electoral show in Oak Park for a long time. I'm guessing that the engaged citizenry decided to try something a little different. Even Grandma's home cooking can grow a bit tiresome.
In addition, there is the Jack Fagan truism that your friends come and go, but your enemies accumulate. I suspect there are a lot of business owners, contractors and homeowners building a porch or adding a bath who were sick and tired of Politburo-like red-tape delays. Mr. Abu-Taleb, a successful businessman, was a legitimate alternative and had enough money to run a real campaign. He was like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Previous challenges to the VMA have usually failed to resonate with voters for any number of reasons — single issue, hodge-podge of issues, poorly financed, too kooky or too scary. It will be interesting to see if owning and managing a good restaurant is preparation for governing. Charley Trotter for President?
The District 200 election was predictible. The outgoing board had spent lots of taxpayer dollars to sue other government bodies who had to defend themselves with taxpayer dollars. Then they piled up a reserve like Scrooge McDuck. And they told the community to shove it when they were called out for their bad decisions. Most of the incumbents didn't bother to run, leaving the brave Mr. Finnegan to play Davy Crocket at the Alamo.
Next question: Am I going to get some more tax dollars back?
There was an encouraging note in the River Forest District 90 Board of Education election. Incumbent Roman Ebert was not slated by the usually omnipotent, always mysterious "caucus," but decided to run anyway, thereby thwarting an uncontested election/coronation like District 97. And he won. Score one for individual initiative.
Finally, there was Ms. Adduci's big win over Mr. Gibbs in the race for River Forest village president. I would comment, but upon reflection, as an Oak Parker, I'm probably stopped from doing so.
Reading the election coverage, I concluded that River Forest is a whole different world.
Kind of like North Korea.