Oak Park Township Trustee James Taglia, who is running against five other candidates for three open Oak Park village trustee seats in the April 4 election, has been chosen by Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb to replace Trustee Adam Salzman, who resigned from the board in February.
Abu-Taleb announced the pick on March 2 at Village Hall. The full board of trustees now must vote to confirm the nomination at its next meeting set for Monday, March 6.
Taglia, who is a certified public accountant and has a master’s degree in business administration, is the owner of the Lake Station, Indiana-based manufacturing chemical company Pro-Chem-Co Inc. and Red Mango frozen yogurt shop, 1044 Lake St. He has served at Oak Park Township for 10 years, six as a trustee.
“He has the capacity to think of the village as a whole and build a better future,” Abu-Taleb said at the press conference. “He believes in the potential of the village and moving our village forward. He’s demonstrated that he has a good judgment.”
Abu-Taleb noted Taglia’s initiatives at the Township urging the Oak Park Board of Trustees to pass various ordinances – one raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and another staffing Oak Park police officers with the anti-opiate overdose drug Narcan.
“He is hardworking, thoughtful and insightful,” Abu-Taleb said. “He will be an excellent village trustee.”
Taglia said at the press conference that Salzman left big shoes to fill, adding, “I’ll work hard every day … to provide value to the board and the residents of Oak Park.”
Taglia faces five opponents for the three at-large seats on the village board of trustees. The remaining candidates are incumbent trustees Peter Barber and Glenn Brewer and challengers Dan Moroney, Simone Boutet and Deno Andrews.
Abu-Taleb said in mid-February that he was likely to wait until after the election to pick a replacement for Salzman, whose seat is not up for reelection for another two years. “The more I think about it the more I think it would be best to wait to allow these folks to introduce their ideas to the community,” he said.
Asked prior to the press conference why he changed his mind and decided not to wait, Abu-Taleb said, “I just believe that the voters of our village should have an opportunity to vote on those three seats without the added distraction of a looming appointment.”
Abu-Taleb said at the press conference that he was conflicted over when to make the appointment, noting, “It is also important to me that the choice I make to fill this vacancy is not viewed in any way in response to the results of the election. That would not be fair to the person I appoint, and that would not be fair to the people of the community.”
Abu-Taleb said he believes Taglia has the ability to bring residents together, an important factor “given what we are facing today on the national level with all this negative energy.”
“I don’t want that to come to our town,” he said.
Abu-Taleb said prior to the announcement that he is optimistic the full board of trustees will confirm the nomination.
If Taglia is approved for the open seat, five candidates will remain, but that number could drop to three.
Barber and Brewer, along with village clerk candidate Lori Malinski, are backed by the Village Manager Association (VMA), which slates and vets candidates for public office in Oak Park. The VMA-backed candidates have faced an ongoing legal challenge to their nominating petitions to get on the April 4 ballot. Attorney Burt Odelson, who represents residents Kevin Peppard and Robert Milstein, who have challenged the petition, said this week he is petitioning the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case.