Jim Taglia, last week a candidate for the Oak Park village board and this week the anointed choice of the mayor for a vacant board seat, reminds us of Al Gore. And, spoiler alert, we’re big fans of Gore.
Like Gore, Taglia is not a whiz-bang candidate when it comes to campaigning. He is not prone to sound bites, won’t make you laugh, won’t hand over the easy promise. So unless he is keeping a charismatic personality deep under wraps, Jim Taglia is just whip smart, fact-based and thoughtful. You could do worse in a village trustee. And we have.
The decision by Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb to change gears and move his appointment replacing Adam Salzman to pre-election from post-election is interesting, maybe curious. Certainly, it is one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” choices that politicians have to make once in a while.
It has been clear for some time that Abu-Taleb likes Taglia and would like him on the board. We know this because the mayor has plainly said so. He admired Taglia’s work on the Oak Park Township board and he admired the way he brought two proposals to the village government. One was to raise the age of legal tobacco sales in Oak Park to 21. The other was to equip local cops with Narcan, the anti-opiate overdose drug.
We admired Taglia for his response to a question we asked last week at the Wednesday Journal endorsement interview for village trustee candidates. Our question was whether some candidates, in the throes of a campaign, have prejudged the still pending proposal for another high-rise in downtown Oak Park. His then competitors said that voters deserve to know their positions before they vote, and we understand that response. But Taglia’s answer was that if he joined the board, if the proposal came to fruition, went through the Plan Commission process and then to the village board, that he needed to keep an open mind on the issue. Makes sense to us — though it made him, not surprisingly, a duller candidate.
There is no reason to suspect Taglia will prove an automatic vote for Abu-Taleb at the board table. Resignations happen, though two in two years is a high number. Mayors are charged with making appointments. In Andrea Button-Ott and Jim Taglia, Abu-Taleb has chosen two thoughtful, non-barn-burning trustees who bring steady energy to the work at hand.