Patty Henek admits she has a steep learning curve when it comes to finding out how village government really works.

But as with her community philanthropy and her public opposition to the Roosevelt Middle School project, Henek is willing to roll up her sleeves and do what it takes to find out what’s going on.

That’s why, after pondering long and hard and talking with various people, she found her focus and interest directing her toward running for River Forest village trustee.

“The more I got involved in a broader scale of things … it seemed more of a fit. I do not want to come across as being a one-agenda candidate,” she said. “It will be a lot of work, and I don’t take that lightly. … I feel I can do the work and am willing to do the work.”

Her efforts to get a grasp on myriad issues started before contemplating a run for trustee. And from what she has seen and learned, she feels the village is moving in the right direction. 

One issue that will be important to the growth of River Forest is economic development. She is pleased with the creation of the Economic Development Commission and thinks it’s great that the village brings on people with expertise and information that help trustees make important decisions on those matters.

“It’s one area that will help maintain taxes so they don’t go through the roof,” Henek said. “We have to maintain some diversity in terms of who’s going to be able to move in and stay. Economic development is the way to go.”

Critical to that concern is the creation of Tax Increment Finance districts on Madison Street and North Avenue, a topic that is currently under study. Henek said it’s an issue she’s educating herself on. “I understand the benefits, but I’m not clear on what the potential negatives are. I want to have a better understanding before I am fully supporting it or not,” she said.

Collaboration is another area that could in the long run help stabilize taxes. She noted that departments regularly work together, whether it’s arresting drug dealers or firefighting or loaning out equipment. The park district and the school district provide space for other groups. 

Henek said she is pleased that the township and the village have been working together, allowing the township to post its activities on the village website and in the e-newsletter come to mind.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she said. “By working with others, there will be some improvements in how property taxes are spent and how services can be streamlined.” 

Patty Henek Bio

  • 47, resident of River Forest for 15 years
  • Coordinator, Holiday Food & Gift Basket program
  • Past work experience includes PR account manager; assistant day care director for Hephzibah Children’s Association
  • First run for public office
  • Founder of LemonAid; current board member (and fundraising chair) of the Neighborhood Giving Project; past PTO co-presidents, Lincoln Elementary and Roosevelt Middle School
  • Married with two son

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