Wednesday Journal’s Oak Park trustee endorsements are the candidates they argue are the top three individuals. But they don’t consider which set of candidates would make the best team. By way of comparison, a coach putting together a basketball team would not select the five best athletes, but that combination of players whose combined skills are most likely to win games.

One of the things that the board would still lack is anyone with professional expertise in managing local governments. The new board would remain a group of bright and dedicated amateurs. If we want a board that makes the optimal decisions for effective and efficient governance, it needs someone who has the knowledge and experience to assist it in doing so. That person is undoubtedly James Thompson.

I know and have worked with James Thompson for many years. At present, he is a professor in the Public Administration Department of the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, and served as department head for five years. Jim has extensive practical experience, having worked for 15 years in city and county government before returning to earn a PhD in public administration at Syracuse University (which has the top program in the nation). His practical experience and education make him unmatched in his ability to analyze local government revenues, costs and budgets, as well as how to make local services as productive as possible.

In addition, he would be unmatched in his skill in analyzing our community and surrounding areas to inform trustee decisions about business development and how to optimize revenue from it. He’s very familiar with the types of problems and successful solutions employed by other local communities, since he teaches the capstone Master of Public Administration course in which the students consult with Chicago area governments.

I personally feel that James Thompson is head and shoulders above all other Oak Park trustee candidates.

But even if you don’t agree that he is the very best, I do hope you will agree that as part of the trustee team he will help the trustees deal with the myriad of problems they will face in coming years. So I sincerely hope whoever else you vote for, one of your three votes will go to James Thompson. 

Darold Barnum

Oak Park

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