With focuses on community and public service, Patty Henek and Respicio Vazquez, River Forest’s two new trustees, will bring a broader perspective to the board.
How will they fare? One only need ask the other two officials who won re-election on April 4.
The pair will bring measured and balanced approaches to issues, said Village President Catherine Adduci said, who ran unopposed for her second term.
“I think Res’ work in the public sector will bring a more diverse and broader perspective,” Adduci said. “Patty will certainly bring a community perspective to the board given her many charitable experiences. They will do their homework and listen to the many perspectives in the community.”
Incumbent Trustee Tom Cargie, who won his second term, said Henek and Vazquez will be quick learners.
“[Patty] is one of the hardest working people I know,” Cargie said. “She won’t just read, but she’ll do the research she’ll need to. She’ll be up to speed in a short period of time.”
Cargie said he was impressed with Vazquez’s grasp of what’s going on with the village, adding that Vazquez had a better command of the village than he had four years ago.
“He speaks confidently about issues and his understanding of them,” Cargie said. “He has sought to master them and will continue to do so.”
Henek and Vazquez will have an orientation meeting with village administrator Eric Palm to find out all the protocols of being a trustee, meet the staff and get a tour of village hall after the village clerk is named. Results of the write-in balloting are expected this week.
Even before that orientation meeting, which will likely take place later this month or in early May, Henek plans to continue doing the prep work that she did for the campaign. She will attend trustees’ meetings, continue to listen to audio and read up on the issues.
“I want to find out more than I already know,” Henek said. “I hope to contribute to the collaborative and robust conversations at the board table, and plan to do so in a positive and constructive manner. I’m ready for the challenge.”
Over the weeks, she’ll also see how she can make communication – her signature campaign issue – more of a vital part of the village’s efforts than it already is. She said she would like to see the board meet with residents 30 minutes before meetings or once a month to talk about what’s on residents’ minds particularly on issues like economic development.
“It’s importance to have the information out there and have a conversation. As concerns come up, I’d like to see us figure out how to address them in a way that’s constructive,” she said. “That will be of real value to the community.”
Vazquez has been doing lawyer’s due-diligence, reaching out to the other trustees and contacting Village Attorney Greg Smith to set a time when he can get up to speed on legal issues and matters handled in closed session.
For years, Vazquez has sat advised boards. Now he will be getting guidance from the village’s attorney. It will be an interesting perspective for him as he will be able to speak his mind, rather than just offer advice.
“I’m hoping that the information will drive the discussion,” said Vazquez. “I’m not going to fall into picking a side. I’ll be sticking to the issues, doing research on my own. I’ll be talking with people, too, and will come to my own decision.”
Vote totals were unchanged from election night. Henek and Vazquez came in first and second, respectively, while Cargie came in third. Trustee Tom Dwyer came in fourth.
What may have aided Henek and Vazquez is that in some precincts it appeared that residents bullet-voted, i.e., voting for one or two candidates, but not a third.
As an example, In Henek’s own Precinct 7, 217 ballots were cast. Henek received 180, while Cargie and Vazquez received 129 and 127 respectively.
In Precinct 4, the far western edge of the community, 239 ballots were cast. Henek received 193 votes; Cargie, 155; Vazquez, 123; and Dwyer, 93.
In Precinct 8, the southern edge of the community, Henek and Vazquez may both have benefitted. Unofficially, 311 ballots were cast. Vazquez received 223 and Henek, 224; and Cargie 180. It was the only precinct that Dwyer got a triple-digit number of vote