Dan Haley hit the nail on the head when he called Trustee Gus Kostopulos “an old school gentleman.” Haley was also right when he characterized the lack of leadership, damaging leadership, by Joanne Trapani, our village president. Haley said “strong candidates of the Village Manager Association become annoying public servants. Its weaker candidates become placeholders at the oval table in council chambers.” As a veteran observer and activist I believe that’s true, too. The Village Manager Association has become “defensive and uninspired” as Haley describes, and Haley has been around participating and observing the VMA for a long time to have a good perspective on the situation.

Not so, however with the New Leadership Coalition and the New Leadership Party. Haley, who has never attended a meeting or observed the group in action, got it wrong about Robert Milstein, John Troelstrup and Barbara Mullarkey being the main or the only personalities driving the New Leadership Coalition, an organization so recently formed that not many know how it happened or who was involved. (See newleadershipcoalition.org for information).

The New Leadership Coalition consists of people committed to real democracy in Oak Park by offering a choice to voters, not like some elections in the past where the VMA candidates run unopposed. Milstein, Troelstrup and Mullarkey were participants but there were 100 plus people with the common goal of seeking good and worthy candidates to support in this April’s local election. Months of work went into forming the slate of The New Leadership Party and all participants shared equally in the final selection.

Troelstrup is a great cheerleader for good government and, as a former trustee of the village board, functioned as historian and expert on the subject of being on the village board. Mullarkey is a fantastic person and resource when it comes to details and facts and local history. But they, as well as Milstein, participated on an equal footing with the 100 plus people who participated overall, beginning to end, and did not dominate any proceedings.

Milstein was asked by many to run in the top spot for village president because of his experience on the board, his record in public service, and his consistent willingness to respectfully listen to residents concerns. Even WEDNESDAY JOURNAL recognized his positive leadership last year when they named him “Villager of the Year,” a sentiment held by many.

From the efforts of many people in the New Leadership coalition, the New Leadership Party emerged consisting of worthwhile people chosen from a talented pool of residents with a willingness to do public service.

Finally, Dan Haley’s observation, “…the VMA becomes ever more earnest in its candidate selection as if confusing good government with bland governance”… ultimately, Dan, you’ve said it all.
Christine Gawne Vernon
Oak Park

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