How are you going to fill that pothole?

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

All five of the people competing for spots on the Oak Park Village Board of Trustees are white, and only one is a woman. A questioner at a candidate forum last week asked for the political hopefuls’ reaction to that relative lack of diversity.

Bob Tucker responded that, yes, he’s white, but his wife Vicki is African American, and he has two biracial children, Spencer and Bennett. However, such interracial marriages are common in Oak Park, he said, and his son gets talked about more at school for his long hair than anything else.

Incumbent Ray Johnson added that, yes, he too is white. But he offers a different kind of diversity, as he was the first openly gay man elected to the village board. However, he isn’t sure how much that trait is going to help him with governing the day-to-day operations at village hall.

“I like to say, ‘There’s no gay way to fill a pothole,’” Johnson said, to a round of laughs.

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

OP Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 6:05 PM

I'm voting for Johnson and Salzman but not Tucker. I've read the comments posted on this forum concerning his alleged conflict of interest. Tucker's refusal to address the matter raises more questions. How can we expect him to be an effective trustee? These reports are not as goofy as the "Birther" craziness or involved anything like the racist rumor Karl Rove spread about John McCain during the 2000 primary in South Carolina. Tucker needs to heed Barney Fife's advice and "Nip it in the bud!".


Posted: March 27th, 2011 5:54 PM

Are you saying you have point, OP? I must have missed that moment. And why do you want me to stay home? Are you talking about on Election Day? That's wrong to say. Embrace the democratic process. And don't be afraid of me or anyone else who questions those in authority. You would have had a tough time surviving the 1960s. Now those were scary times. I think we'll wait to see if Jim Kelly is able to spare a minute to accept or decline the challenge. If he says, "No", then that'll be it for me.


Posted: March 27th, 2011 5:13 PM

My point exactly. You dont know Jim Kelly and you really dont want to know Jim or get the data you are requesting. Maybe you should stay home. You really scare me.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 4:28 PM

OP, are you hoping to wear me down with a steady stream of gibberish? Talk about wasting time. I'm sure Jim Kelly is a fine and decent man. Give him my best. But understand that Kelly posted a comment regarding VMA finances on this forum and I responded. That's all. It's up to him and the VMA to decide to accept the challenge. I'm guessing they decided to decline. Why aren't you outside enjoying this early Spring day? I've been posting during timeouts of the NCAA basketball games. Who ya got?

Johnson, Salzman, & Tucker 2011  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 4:19 PM

Please get out and Vote on April 5th for Johnson, Salzman and Tucker for Oak Park Trustee. Thank You


Posted: March 27th, 2011 4:17 PM

You seem to spend way too much energy on this topic in a comment space of an article. Have you ever met Jim Kelly? Have you tried? Do you know where Jim Kelly is? I find it suspect that you sit here and waste up your time trying to have a dialogue with a person who is OUT actively contributing to the campaign process. Do you really think this is the appropriate forum to get the info you are looking for? The sad part is YES You do. Priceless

OP Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 4:09 PM

Geez, OP. Why not let Jim Kelly and the VMA slate decide if the financial reports can and will be posted on the party's website? As I've explained, I'm a voter and not aligned with Gary Schwab or any political campaign. Please stop shoving that innuendo in my face. Ask Schwab yourself and refrain from handing me assignments. Transparency is good. Why do you continue to fight against it? I'm sure there's no smoking gun in those reports that should cause you to worry. Don't be afraid of the truth

OP Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 3:54 PM

Do you bait your own hook?


Posted: March 27th, 2011 3:49 PM

No games here. Not sure how that info will help you vote or not vote on April 5TH. Ask Gary Schwab who contributed to his failed run with the other 3 people he ran with. I'm sure he will tell you the same types of people I mentioned. Transparency doent mean I tell you how much I make. Transparency refers to how the Village is governed. Why does it matter if I gave them $20K ? I think your energy could be used in a much more productive manner

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 3:23 PM

So Bob Tucker's wife Vicki is an immigrant then? Which country in Africa does she hail from? Is she Nigerian-American, Kenyan-American or what?

OP Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 11:43 AM

Don't play games, OP. I support full disclosure. Voters should know who & how much is funding political campaigns. The reports I asked to be posted on the VMA website have already been filed and are part of the public record. I'm not suggesting there's anything nefarious involved.. What's the big deal? There's no good reason for Jim Kelly to object to my request. He should agree in the spirit of openness and transparency. That's a VMA campaign promise.


Posted: March 27th, 2011 9:53 AM

Anyone who lives in OP or has a business in OP does business with OP. Your mind is wandering for no good reason. Vote on April 5th.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 26th, 2011 10:48 PM

Hello, OP. What got me wondering about campaign finance were the reports about how the US Chamber of Commerce was funding ads against health care reform. I'm sure the money raised for our local elections is legit but it would be interesting to learn if donations have been accepted from individuals, organizations, or companies who may have business with the Village of Oak Park. There's never been a hint of wrongdoing but the rules have changed thanks to a bad decision by the Supreme Court.


Posted: March 26th, 2011 7:23 PM

OP Resident, I thought you possible could have been an intelligent person. Really. You really want to know who gives money to campaigns? Hmmm. Candidates, friends, family, colleagues, like minded people and people with knowledge of the candidate. What were you thinking? Your post seems to imply the VMA is this organization that has some secret way of running campaigns! It seems like John Murtagh is ready to run. Not sure he has the support or money?

OP Resident  

Posted: March 26th, 2011 1:37 PM

Thanks to Jim Kelly for taking time out of his busy schedule. Any chance he can find a few minutes to at least discuss whether he's willing to post the info I requested on the VMA website? By the way, I'm voting for Johnson and Salzman. No vote for Tucker because he has not addressed the issues regarding conflict of interest. There's no hidden agenda behind my questions. I just thought it would be helpful to get the complete picture on how campaigns are financed. And by whom.

Jim Kelly  

Posted: March 26th, 2011 12:37 PM

OP - the fact I don't have your luxury of posting on here 24 hours a day doesn't mean I've disappeared. It means I'm actually engaged constructively in our local political process.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 26th, 2011 11:31 AM

Geez, James. Where did you get the idea I'm Po'd? or jealous? And for the record, everyone who posts about local politics is not in the Schwab or VMA camp. I'm a voter. My challenge to Jim Kelly was in response to his claims about how the VMA finances campaigns. He states the party has nothing to do with raising money but admits that they file the final report. I think John Murtagh has a better idea on how this all works. I just would like to see the final reports for the previous 10 elections.


Posted: March 26th, 2011 9:30 AM

Hey OP Resident, people back who they believe in. If you're PO'd because of it, find some sane candidates who don't have ties to Gary Schwab and his ilk and run them, otherwise your petty jealousy is quite apparent.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 6:16 PM

I should have cited Gail Moran as the individual who vanished from this forum when the questions about the VMA got too specific. Sorry for calling out Sally. But it does appear that Jim Kelly is going to be MIA from this conversation. Seems to be a pattern developing here. Sad.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 5:07 PM

I knew I could count on John Murtagh to bring some clarity to the question. I suspect we're not going to be hearing from Jim Kelly regarding my challenge that the VMA disclose on it's website all campaign financing sources and expenditures. Sally Furth took a powder from these pages when people started asking her for specifics. You can bet the VMA would be howling if the Koch brothers decided to influence our local process like they are doing in states across the country. I know I would be upset

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 3:15 PM

Yes, candidates and friends do donate to the VMA account that is shielded by the use of a campaign slate name,a Illinois election name that is different has well. Candidates usually donate $1,000 to the VMA account when running. Money is also received from VMA members. A big share comes from businesses with OP contracts. $30,000 is about the right amount per election. Kelly might be right that it is lower this year - No opposition. VMA will spend more this week now that Kassen has WJ nod.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 2:10 PM

Here's a fair request to the VMA. How about posting on your website the total amount of money raised & spent on each of the last ten campaigns for Village Board? Release the names & amounts of everyone who has contributed. I know you are required to file such reports with the State Board of Elections; so maybe you could just post those documents. I know there's not a chance of this happening but offered the suggestion to prove that our own local political machine is a lot of talk. Put up or....

OP Resident  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 1:13 PM

Come on, Jim Kelly! Anyone who has lives in Oak Park knows that VMA candidates have always outspent their opposition by a wide margin. Just take a look at all the yard signs. Residents can also expect to receive a glossy , 4 color pamphlet from the slate as well as full page ads in the local papers. Money flows to power. Unless the VMA is willing to support public financing for Village campaigns; I find your protestations to be insincere. Oak Park voters rarely have any choice but the VMA. Fact!

j.oakpark from oak park  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 12:42 PM

and wouldn't it be fair to say the VMA candidates are largely supported by registered members of the VMA party? Or maybe you just like spiting hairs?

Jim Kelly  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 11:43 AM

OP Resident: Your statements are wildly distorted. The VMA doesn't finance the campaign. The candidates raise most of the money from family, friends, and supporters - over 130 so far. The $30K is grossly overestimated as you will see when we file our final report in April with the State Board of elections.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 4:48 PM

Oak Park voters are rarely given a choice It all comes down to money. The current VMA is going to spend at least $30K on this election. That figure would discourage most folks from running as an independent.

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