I had to go to the thesaurus to find words to describe the power our Village Manager Association has in influencing elections in this community over the last 50 years. Words like “colossus,” “leviathan” and “juggernaut” describe an organization whose endorsed candidates have won 97 percent of all village elections since 1960. This record rivals Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party for success.
So when the VMA announces its three candidates in November, it’s really announcing the election results for next April. Why there may not even be a contested election. Poor Gary Schwab is trying to find candidates to run against the VMA by making public appeals in the newspapers. He reminds me of Diogenes, who wandered the streets of Athens in search of an honest man, except I’m sure Mr. Schwab as he wanders our streets would lower the honesty bar to get some candidates. To be sure, the election will be a dull one. The horrible economy has so diminished economic development expectations that a new Walgreens is cause for rejoicing. A bunch of people got upset because parking went up a buck, and we almost ran out of salt one winter. Such issues won’t get the voters out on a raw April day. When you’re in survival mode you stick with the known.
Who are our new trustees? Ray Johnson, bless his heart, has re-upped for a third term. Ray has a proven record and you should pretty much know a public official after eight years before the mast, even though you do wonder why anyone would keep doing this. It’s the other two fellas — Adam Salzman and Bob Tucker. They seem like decent candidates, but we don’t really know anything about them or how they were selected. Given the virtual certainty of their election, I think the VMA has to hold itself to the very highest standards of candor and transparency. How many candidates came before the VMA for endorsement? Who were they? How close was the vote? Why were these two picked? Did they have references? Who? What did the references say? Why are they really running? Were they recruited? Who recruited them? Are they good guys? Can they work collegially? Everybody has a story. What’s theirs?
Now I appreciate that matters of personal privacy are implicated here, but it is a virtual certainty that these endorsees are going to win election, and we won’t know anything about them. I sure hope the select VMA committee members who laid hands on these chosen few, from a secret pool using undisclosed criteria, were aware of their significant responsibility.
John Hubbuch, an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976, is a retired lawyer. Hubbuch served on the District 97 school board and coached youth sports. He is the father of three and grandfather of one.