Trustees Bob Tucker, Andrea Ott and Adam Salzman with Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb (photo courtesy of Bob Tucker)

What makes a strong village trustee?

We say farewell to Oak Park Village Trustee Adam Salzman this week at the very same time we are getting to know six candidates angling for three seats in the April 4 election.  I really like Adam and am sad to see him go, though I understand the need to move on professionally. 

Adam leaves a strong legacy.  Tough act to follow.

Adam is all the good things we want:  smart, serious, focused, dedicated, honest and reflective of the values of our community.  He was not afraid to ask questions publicly nor stick by his principles.  Agree with him or not – you knew where he stood on an issue.  I liked him best when he would get a little feisty at the Board table or in a forum.  Maybe impatient with a process or frustrated with a communication lapse or simply intent on doing the right thing.  And I mean that as a true compliment – I like to see a little fire in my elected representatives.

Mostly, though, Adam listens.  He hears you, he asks questions, he tries to understand, he considers.  Never once in six years did I sense that Adam had already made up his mind before hearing you out.  And like a good politician (yes, there ARE good politicians), Adam made you feel good about providing input even though he never let on which way he himself was leaning.

That, to me, is the most important thing in today’s political arena.  To be heard.  To have a voice and to know that our representatives are listening.  Listening to all of us, weighing pros and cons and making the best decisions possible, based on values, resources and available options.  It is disappointing when your side does not prevail.  But it makes you crazy when you feel ignored, irrelevant, inconsequential.

We need politicians that listen because they want to collect the information – not reflect back fears.  Adam always listened.  And while he is stepping down from Board service, fortunately he is very much staying here in Oak Park.  Join me in thanking him for six years of honorable service to our Village.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...

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