VMA welcomes citizen participation

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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As the president of the Village Manager Association (VMA), I am glad to see recent One Views calling attention to the Spring 2013 municipal elections in Oak Park. Increased citizen participation at every step of the election process — from candidate recruitment to voting on Election Day — has always been a goal of the VMA.

The VMA is an open organization and is holding its annual membership meeting on Sunday afternoon, May 20, from 3-5 p.m. Please visit our website for an announcement regarding the meeting location. We welcome any Oak Park citizens who wish to attend to learn more about the organization and, if they choose, become voting members.

Over the next several months, we'll be recruiting individuals who are interested in running for village president, trustee, and clerk in the Spring 2013 election. We are also actively recruiting citizens to serve on the committee that vets those individuals and recommends the best qualified, most committed ones to run on a combined slate that represents diverse viewpoints.

To learn more about the VMA and its role in recommending candidates to our community, please visit our website at vma-oakpark.org or contact me directly.

Brad Bartels
VMA president

Reader Comments

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Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 2:19 PM

Kyle, as usual, wise words.

Kyle  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 11:46 AM

My question (not for you Ms. Powell, just general) is why are we allowing these citizen committees be "approved" by the Board...even if they usually go through. But secondly, why not just open the process to anyone who wants to serve? The CIC shouldn't be interviewing "applicants" or making "recommendations." If you're a resident, you have a right to be on a commission. End of story. If too many people want to volunteer, maybe that'd be the cue that voters want more direct input.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 11:11 AM

Information on how to apply to serve on a board or commission is on the village website at www.oak-park.us. The Civic Involvement Commission (CIC), which is made up of 9 local residents (appointed like all other commissioners)conducts monthly interviews of applicants and recommends candidates for these positions to the Board for approval. My role as staff liaison for the CIC is to provide information to all who are interested in serving and to report to the Board the CIC recommendations.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 10:40 AM

@j.oakpark, I've been pleased with the performance of Village Clerk Powell and consider her to be an effective public official like her predecessors Virginia Cassin and Sondra Sokol. She has reached out to the community and asked people to volunteer and share their talents and expertise by serving on a public advisory commission. More information is needed regarding the application and approval process and I hope Clerk Powell will confirm that it has not been compromised by partisan politics.

j.oakpark  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 5:39 AM

Hello Mr. Coughlin, I am no huge fan of the vma and I can say I honestly don't know Teresa Powell. I do find TP's posts on OP.com a little more than self serving, often after the fact. The one thing I would say, regarding the Post by Mr. Barsotti, (who I think did an outstanding job on his post on the sertus project) and Powell's letters is: it is the job of the village clerk to send the letters, but I don't think she made the decisions in the letters. If I am wrong, I would love to know pls.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 9:11 PM

Is Brad Bartels able to disclose the total number of VMA members who currently serve as chairs and on the panels of Oak Park's various public advisory commissions and committees? Is there any truth to reports of party membership factoring into trustees' approval of applications or that Village Clerk Powell is politicizing the process by rejecting individuals who has express opinions contrary to VMA positions? Civic involvement should be open to all and not compromised by party politics.

Kyle  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 3:16 PM

Thank you for responding, Mr. Bartels. Let's hope, indeed, that whoever we elect in the spring serves the community well.

We deem you acceptable...  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 2:44 PM

"When folks come before us.." Yikes.

Brad Bartels from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 2:27 PM

Great Questions Kyle! The VMA is a membership based organization. Dues to belong are $20 and we ask that our members concur with the guiding principles of the VMA. You can visit our website for more information. Over the years we have prided ourselves on being rooted in good governance - the VMA was born in the 50s in response to the corruption of a mayor/aldermanic form of government that existed at the time. This led Oak Park to be an early adopter of the Village Manager form of government that we operate under today. Over the years we have worked hard to recruit Village Board and Clerk candidates from all reaches of the community and who have a strong desire to serve. When folks come before us, we are respectful of their interest in representing their fellow Oak Parkers. We believe casting a net wide and far will help us find good candidates to endorse and, if elected, that will serve our community well.

Kyle  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 9:20 AM

A couple of ?'s Mr. Bartels...can residents join the selection committee without being VMA members? Is membership always paid? Will the candidate selection process be transparent for the public? I think you see where I'm going with this...many in Oak Park are uneasy w/the VMA & more could be done to ease fears given the perceptions that exist. We want more diversity, more transparency, & more participation in the whole municipal process.

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