The elections are barely a week past but there is still time for a draft movement for an Oak Park candidate. That is because even after the election, the Oak Park village board is still a trustee short, owing to the January resignation of Martha Brock.
Village President David Pope will nominate and the new village board will most certainly consent on Pope’s choice to fill a two-year term. Wisely, Pope has implied that he is looking for an African-American to appoint to the currently all-white board.
We strongly suggest that that candidate be Ade Onayemi, the long-time District 97 board president and active community member. We know that Onayemi had been strongly recruited to run for election to the village board but had previously declined. Now, though, with a more settled board majority elected, just a two-year term to fill, and the prospect of actual forward movement, we hope that Onayemi would consider an offer.
Here’s why Ade: He’s smart, tough, and gracious. He has proven himself as an effective board member during challenging years in District 97. He has interesting connections in Austin, where he has moved his architecture practice. And he would be a living, breathing demonstration of Pope’s determined effort at cross-governmental cooperation.
Going forward, though, we want to see black candidates coming forward voluntarily for voter consideration for the village board. We have a stronger history of African-American representation on the local school boards. Having a more diverse and representative village board is critically important.
Triton’s fresh eyes
We have been critical of governance at Triton College, a major institution which has been run like board Chairman Mark Stephens’ fiefdom. Happily voters are catching on.
Last week, district voters planted one, and we hope, two independent watchdogs at Stephens’ right and left elbow. Irene Del Guidice is a three-term incumbent who has recently found her spine. Stephens tried to block her re-election and almost pulled it off. Then there is Oak Parker Thomas Gary, who thanks partly to strong local support, was the top vote-getter in the Triton race. Gary talks like a reformer touting an open approach to governing. He was backed by state Senator Don Harmon, which encourages us. But Gary ran with the insider slate. He says the proof of his independence will be in his voting record. We’ll be watching. And we will be monitoring the entire board as we continue more intense reporting on affairs at our community college.
Unopposed, but still behind
What does it tell you when you run in an uncontested election but garner 30 percent fewer votes than your also unopposed colleagues? We hope it tells newly elected River Forest Village Trustee Stephen Dudek that at least 200 voters are troubled by the confrontational and closed methods he used in running the park district while he was its president.
Dudek led an unnecessary fight with the village government over lighting Keystone Park when some common-sense discussion and compromise were clearly in order. He has a penchant for secrecy that was unhealthy with the parks.
He has a fresh start on a board that shows little interest in hot-dogging and big egos. Along with his rejection by 30 percent of the voters, we expect his new board colleagues to school him in how local government ought to work.