Lewis Carmichael

Five candidates will vie for three open seats on the Oak Park Village Board of Trustees next April, but only one local political party is joining the dance.

The Village Manager Association—the political party that has dominated nearly every election in the village since the 1950s—has a three-member slate of candidates. Two independents have filed to compete for the trustee positions, with the filing period ending Monday.

Lewis Carmichael, 79, has lived in Oak Park for the past 10 years. A retired dentist and Navy reservist, he previously was assistant township supervisor in Waukegan and lost a bid for alderman in the same town in the 1960s. He has never run in an election locally before, nor has he served on a citizen board or commission.

He says he was motivated to run for village trustee because of an alleged incident three years ago—where a child’s bike sitting outside a home was improperly confiscated by police, according to Carmichael. He’s running a “no money” campaign and hopes to set up a website soon.

“I am not a confined candidate,” he said of why he’s running as an independent. “I am not bowing down to anybody. Nobody can say, ‘We supported you, now do what we want.’ I’m my own man.”

The other independent is Lynn Kessen, 45. She could not be reached for comment Monday.

They join three candidates from the VMA, who are running as the “Citizens for Accountable Leadership” slate, which the party announced in October. Headlining the ticket is incumbent Ray Johnson, who will vie for a third term as a village trustee. He will be joined by newcomers Bob Tucker and Adam Salzman, who are both lawyers and veterans of Oak Park’s volunteer citizen commissions.

The Village Citizens Alliance, which has challenged the VMA in recent elections, announced in November that it wouldn’t be running a slate of candidates, because there wasn’t enough interest from potential candidates.

All seven of the current members of the village board were slated by the VMA, including Jan Pate and Jon Hale, who are stepping down next spring after the end of their first term.

Oak Park Village Board of Trustees (three seats open)

  • Ray Johnson (incumbent)
  • Lewis Carmichael
  • Adam Salzman
  • Bob Tucker
  • Lynn Kessen

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