Who is leading the village board?
Unfortunately, the answer may be "nobody."
Consider the possible candidates. Last spring, Oak Parkers elected David Pope, an independent candidate, to the post of village president. One might think that his election qualified him to be the leader of the board. But, since he lacks any party affiliation, his role on the board has become largely ceremonial.
For example, his power to make appointments is subject to approval by the New Leadership Party (NLP) board majority. His authority to break tie votes can also be thwarted if NLP members vote as a block. The one important role still left to President Pope is that of representing the village in regional, state, and national affairs. I hope he will energetically engage in such activities.
Robert Milstein, a trustee with board experience, now finds himself surrounded by four inexperienced trustees of his own party. This would suggest that by virtue of seniority, he now serves as the "majority leader" if not the de facto president.
However, his defeat in the recent presidential election should have weakened his standing with fellow NLP board members. Trustee Ray Johnson also has two years of board experience but, like President Pope, he lacks party allies. Perhaps one of the four newcomers will emerge as a leader of the board, but most have had little or no prior experience holding leadership positions within large, complex organizations.
When village boards are unable to establish their own internal leadership, village managers often fill the void. However, manager Swenson and some of his senior staff now find their positions under attack by NLP party members. These attacks appear to be part of an unfortunate NLP strategy designed to strengthen the NLP party by weakening the Village Manager form of government.
Should this strategy eventually lead to the loss of our very capable village manager, citizens will become much more aware the leadership issue I am raising.
So the ultimate answer to my question is not yet clear. It appears that Oak Park voters, by splitting their ballots, inadvertently produced a village board with a limited capacity to rally around strong leadership at any level.
Of course one or more board members may somehow emerge to fill this vacuum. Hopefully, their emergence will based upon such positive attributes as character, intelligence, judgment, political skill and hard work