The Village Manager Association picked three candidates for its April slate for village trustees, including incumbent Trustee Ray Johnson, former Plan Commissioner Jon Hale, and Jan Pate, who also has prior government experience.

“I’m excited. I’m really excited,” Pate said of being selected. “I’m going into this with eyes wide open.”

Pate, 50, is the development director for the West Cook YMCA in Oak Park. She came to Chicago in 1994 to take a different job with the YMCA, one that had her traveling the world. She quit the job in order to fulfill a dream of living abroad, which she did in Kosovo from January to June in 2005, where she worked for a non-government relief organization.

An Oak Parker since 2000, Pate has always been interested in government and worked as the director for public information and later as the director for revenue enhancement for the City of Florence, S.C. She serves on Oak Park’s Community Relations Commission and as the VMCA’s press person.

Her two grown sons and the rest of her family are still in the southeast.

Pate says she hopes to help “create an atmosphere for rational and civil discourse on the board,” and help make meetings more efficient. She said the board needs to find a better way of hearing the business community’s needs.

Parking is always a problem, Pate said, but not for her. “I walk everywhere,” she said. Parking hassles and gas prices make her cringe. “And being a 50-year-old woman, I need the exercise.”

The VMA revamped its organization after the last election, where its candidates lost in all four elections for the board. Part of that involved changing the candidate evaluation and selection process. The process was shortened for the nearly three dozen people sitting on the selection committee. VMA President Bob Kane did not know as of midday Tuesday whether they would release names of those on the committee.

The organization identified six serious candidates-one-tenth of the number the VMA contacted who might be interested or coaxed into running. The list was winnowed to 30 for face-to-face, follow-up talks. Of the final six, two had to drop out, one because of illness, the other because of job responsibilities, Kane said.

The VMA has as many as five people looking to be slated for the two-year seat vacated by former Trustee Geoff Baker.

Pate, Hale and Johnson will meet to develop their platform once the fourth candidate has been chosen. The VMA does not set the platform.

“We were looking for the best candidates, not the best person to give the party line,” Kane said.

Jon Hale helped organize Forum Oak Park, or ForOP, in September 2005. “We agreed that there needed to be at least one group of citizens who aren’t motivated by self-interest or single issues but by its commitment to the entire village,” Hale wrote in an e-mail at the time.

Hale, 47, is a portfolio manager at Morningstar Associates, grouping mutual funds into diversified investment portfolios for companies like Transamerica, but he got a Ph.D. in political science and spent about a half-dozen years as an academic, like his wife, Lynn Kamenitsa, who is a poli-sci professor at Northern Illinois University. They’ve lived in Oak Park 11 years, and have a son, Vade (a family name of unknown origin), 7, and Nellie, 5, who attend Beye Elementary School.

Hale said the impulse to run in part came because he “felt somebody had to step up and run who is well-qualified” about issues and governance. He identified the length of meetings-which isn’t necessarily correlated to how well a board governs, he said-as a “daunting task” to be addressed.

ForOP continues, he said, but will not be part of the election.

Hale, too, identified the business environment as a key issue, as well as restraining property taxes and finding new affordable housing options.

Incumbent Trustee Ray Johnson has worked 23 years for HSBC-North America, in their Consumer Lending Marketing Division, and was elected to the board in 2003. Previously he and Village President David Pope served together on the Plan Commission.

“I am honored to have been slated once again by the VMA and look forward to a dynamic, engaging campaign,” Johnson said. “Despite the long hours and the difficult decisions, I have found my public service as a trustee to be incredibly worthwhile, and I am looking forward to continuing to serve Oak Park for a second term with continued high energy.”

Jon Hale

Ray Johnson

Jan Pate

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