In nearly 32 years as an Oak Park resident, I have never written a letter to the editor on any topic. But a letter published in last week’s Viewpoints cannot go unanswered. In it, Henry Schooenveld called upon Oak Parkers to reject John Hedges’ candidacy for the Village Board of Trustees. I do not know Mr. Schooenveld, but I do know that he doesn’t know John Hedges.

I have known John since long before he took over as director of Oak Park Parks and Recreation, a post he held for some 20 years. Village managers came and went, trustees came and went, but John stayed on the job and did it exceptionally well; handling everything from a chlorine surge at a pool to a neo-Nazi rally in a park.

In all those years, I have known him to be honest, hardworking, and dedicated to making Oak Park a good place to live and raise a family. Others apparently share this high opinion of his character and leadership abilities since he was appointed interm village manager, was awarded the Staszak Award by the Oak Park Education Foundation for his service to the public schools, and has chaired numerous local civic and charitable commissions. To my knowledge he is the only candidate for office who has a building–the parks headquarters on Madison–named after him.

In short, his record as a leader, administrator and engaged citizen is exceptional. And I, among many others I am sure, take exception to the wreckless, baseless attempt to smear his name and record. Those who truly know him and appreciate all he has done for Oak Park–and will do as trustee–will vote for John Hedges on April 17.

Robert Messer, Oak Park


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