When David Pope and Bob Milstein decided to run for village president, they each had two remaining years to serve as trustees. They did not resign their seats. They ran with the understanding that if they won, they, as president, would have the right to appoint their successor with the consent of the sitting trustees.
Newly-elected President Pope did not immediately appoint a trustee replacement for himself. If he had, that person would have participated in the hours of orientation and education that village staff provided to the newly-elected board. That person would also have experienced the hours of internal board discussions that new boards engage in to determine their protocols and procedures. Instead, nearly four months went by without a fully constituted board.
Finally a new trustee has been appointed. Will the village staff spend dozens of expensive hours bringing this new trustee up to speed? Will she be tutored by the sitting trustees?
Knowing that this appointee has less than two years to serve, will this person ever be fully engaged in the work of the board? Who knows?
But we do know that President Pope failed to keep many of his promises about this process. He did not appoint a non-affiliated candidate. He did not have a transparent process. He did not have a quick and efficient process. And he did not choose a candidate that would be widely recognized as prepared to be a trustee.
In the future, slating bodies should insist that presidential candidates resign their seats, if they are in the middle of their term. The public should have the right to elect a replacement trustee for a two-year term.
The Village of Oak Park has not been well served by the manner in which these two candidates for president of the village handled their responsibility to the citizens of Oak Park.