Ernest Moore

A village trustee is vacating his seat on the Oak Park board, just over a year after taking the position.

Trustee Ernest Moore, who has taken a job just north of Dallas, will step down from his position in Oak Park next week after attending his final board meeting Monday. Moore joined the board last June, taking over for Martha Brock.

Moore did not attend this Monday’s village board meeting. President David Pope made the announcement.

“Ernest has been a very valuable addition to our board and has provided some real insight regarding many issues that have come before us,” Pope said in an interview after the meeting. “It will be a real loss to our board and our board’s deliberations. But at the same time, I completely understand and respect his decision and his need to step down at this time.”

Reached by phone Tuesday morning in Texas, Moore said he decided to leave the board about two months ago, when he started looking at taking a job out of the state. He took a position June 1 as professor and chair in the department of speech and hearing sciences at the University of North Texas.

At the same time, he left a professorial position at Northwestern University.

“I learned a great deal and have a great amount of respect for all of [the board],” Moore said from Denton, Texas. “I certainly have a lot of respect for David and how he runs the board.”

Pope said he will search for a candidate to cover the last nine months of Moore’s term. He asked the board and asks anyone in the village for input to fill the vacancy. Pope said he’d like to find someone by the time the board starts working on the 2009 budget after its August recess.

Race and background are two important factors in picking a successor, Pope said. He nominated Moore in part for his experience with housing issues and his time on Oak Park Residence Corporation’s board of directors.

“We face a variety of challenges and decisions as a community and I will look to identify a potential trustee who will be well-equipped to contribute meaningfully to the board’s consideration of these issues and challenges,” Pope said.

Moore echoed the need for diversity on Oak Park’s board, which is now all white.

“I think, for the diversity of the community, there should be some attention paid or attempt made to elect another African-American,” he said. “I think it offers a balance that is not there.”

Moore, a 12-year Oak Park resident, plans to work in Texas during the week and return to his home here on the weekends. His wife of 19 years and 16-year-old daughter will stay in the village and visit him in Texas. His daughter is at OPRF and plans to attend Michigan State, where he taught for 23 years.

He grew up in Memphis, holds a doctorate, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and served with APPLE and the VMA selection committee.

He plans to devote his extra time to research projects, such as in the area of cell biology.

Moore has a few regrets from his year on the board. He wishes he could have done more to tackle the village’s unfunded pensions, stop the housing crisis and find a way to retire the village’s debt.

“Borrowing dollars to finance projects was not my cup of tea,” he said.

However, he’s happy with steps the board took in the past year to reduce spending and possibly end this year in the black.

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