The 2019 election season has begun in Oak Park. Ten days back, a group loosely aligned around their opposition to the Albion high rise at Lake and Forest met just down the street at the main library. They have taken the name Voice. One of the founders described it as an “organizational meeting” with an eye on the spring 2019 village board elections. 

There will be three spots on the village board up for election. So far, none of the incumbents — Bob Tucker, Andrea Button or Jim Taglia — have publicly announced their plans.

Also unknown are the future plans of the Village Manager Association, the once dominant VMA, which spent decades scaring off or crushing opposition to its diversity, economic development and good government mantra. The VMA, decimated in the election 15 months ago, owes us a head nod if it intends to climb off the mat.

Is Ray Johnson, the former VMA trustee, ready to retire from his corporate sanctuary in Brooklyn and return home for a run? Well likely not until he can run for village president in 2021. (And, yes, we’re just stirring the pot here.)

We’d be surprised if there isn’t some electoral version of the Oak Park Property Tax Watch, a Facebook and in-person gather up of people alarmed by rising property tax burdens in the village. Whether their potential electoral thunder ought to be directed at village hall or Oak Park and River Forest High School is a question still to be answered.

Who else? Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, re-elected without opposition in 2017, may want to get into the slate-making business, seeking out pro-development, government efficiency and public safety supporters. If he doesn’t find allies, or convince his current colleagues to re-up, he may have a very lonely final two years as mayor.

All that said, whoever runs for the village board has to be running toward something. Voice can’t just be against anything taller than 60 feet. Nobody cares about the VMA’s 70-year legacy. Truly, nobody cares. The Property Tax Watch people might really want to focus on the public schools as that is where the great bulk of property taxes are deposited.

And Abu-Taleb needs a tagline broader than “We’re open for business.”

By fall we’ll be moving into declaration and petition passing mode. Every election counts. But we see 2019 as a defining year for Oak Park and its future.

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