Oak Park has been fortunate over many years to have mainly good village trustees. There has, of course, been a supply of actual clunkers who ranged from all-in seat warmers to actively negative forces. Then, in limited numbers, there have been a small number of unusually strong elected officials. 

The village is losing one of that select group later this month when Adam Salzman resigns his seat. Salzman has taken a new and fascinating job that specifically precludes holding public office. He will become the executive director of the Chicago Legal Clinic. Since 1981, this pro bono legal aid provider has focused on immigration, ex-offender rights and domestic violence. They have found a champion to lead them in Salzman.

As an Oak Park trustee, Adam Salzman has been a rare combination of an official clear in his goals and purpose for seeking office, open to the ideas of others, and completely steady in his approach. A sense of humor, but no grandstanding. Sees the strengths and the warts of village government, but doesn’t feel the need to be defensive about that mix. Hard to find that blend.

We recall with admiration the response of Salzman and Trustee Bob Tucker in the aftermath of the village presidential election in 2013 when a small core of VMA hardcases did not react maturely to the overwhelming victory of Anan Abu-Taleb. In a letter to the Journal, these two trustees made plain their support of the election outcome and their intention to welcome Abu-Taleb.

That was governance.

Depending on the outcome of the current electoral challenge to the sitting VMA trustees up for reelection — to be settled after press time — the next Oak Park village board could be weaker and more novice. We’ll really miss Adam Salzman. 

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