As Oak Park village elections have become more competitive in recent cycles, they’ve also become more politicized. It is not a healthy trend for our traditionally non-partisan political culture.

Four years ago, a party called the Citizens Alliance, a precursor to today’s VCA, accepted financial contributions from unions representing village hall employees. That was a bad precedent which has not been repeated under the intense criticism it wrought. Two years ago, two individuals largely bankrolled the NLP and, in that process, multiplied the total amount spent on a single local election. Again, unless there is a late surge from Messers Farrar and Williams, that largesse will not be repeated.

Now it is 2007, and opponents are reacting to a Wednesday Journal story published online last Friday reporting that the Citizens for Progressive Action/VMA party has raised the unheard of amount of $70,000 for this campaign. Specifically, objections are being predictably heard that some $15,000 of that amount has been donated by business people in Downtown Oak Park who are rightly fed up with how the current board has mucked up their district. We don’t fault their financial involvement in this campaign.

Our concern with the VMA this election season is with the professional polling it commissioned at a cost of some $12,500, the negative tenor of that polling and its questions, and that it, albeit briefly, hired a paid political consultant to advise on campaign strategy.

To the credit of the VMA’s candidates, that consultant was swiftly dispatched once they were chosen and the campaign has returned to a more traditional grassroots style.

Our point is that none of the practices we’ve cited are elevating the debate in Oak Park and all of them ought to be rejected by the participants in local politics. We look at the wretched state of political affairs in neighboring Cicero, Berwyn, Melrose Park, even, to a degree in Forest Park, and we know that Oak Park must do better.

Accountability at Triton

We send our kids there but Oak Park and River Forest residents don’t pay much attention to Triton College. Neither, traditionally, do the local papers. Our failing.

In recent months this newspaper has consciously begun to cover our community college, specifically its historically troubled governance. We’ll keep up our part. But with election day just ahead, we ask voters to also pay attention and to vote with purpose in the Triton race. A recap of our endorsements in that race can be found below.

Another governance morass

We’ve also been aggressive in the past two years in covering the oddities and the absurdities of the Cicero Township Treasurer’s office. Again, a unit of government which has long escaped necessary scrutiny. Oak Park voters can help end this office once and for all by voting “Yes” to disband it.

Our endorsements

Oak Park village board
Jon Hale
John Hedges
Ray Johnson
Mary Shiffer

District 200 school board
John Allen
Ralph Lee
Sharon Patchak Layman

Oak Park library board
Elizabeth Guillette
Lane Hart
Janet Kelenson

River Forest park board
Thomas Cargie
Molly Hague

Triton College board
Irene Del Giudice
Thomas Gary
Al McKinnor

Cicero Township Treasurer Referendum
Vote yes to abolish the office

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