It may be too soon to tell what the 2021 race for Oak Park village president will look like, but there’s a good chance Oak Park Trustee Simone Boutet will be among those vying to be the village’s top elected official.
That’s because the candidate recently filed paperwork with the Illinois Board of Elections as a candidate for village president and using the email email@example.com.
Boutet acknowledged in a telephone interview that she is considering a run for the office but that she hasn’t made a final decision.
“I ran for trustee to bring a higher level of transparency and good government to the village; I have been overwhelmed by the positive response I have received from all segments of the community – including the many people who have encouraged me to run for village president in 2021,” Boutet said.
“I remain committed to advancing Oak Park into the future and am exploring running for village president in the next election; however, the election is a long way away and in the near term I am focusing on my duties as trustee.”
Boutet is not the first elected official to voice interest in running for the office. Mary Anne Mohanraj, an Oak Park library board member, told Wednesday Journal in September 2018 that she was considering running for the office.
“I’ve been talking to some people about various positions I should consider. Village board is one of them, mayor is one of them, Cook County commissioner is one of them,” Mohanraj said last year.
Upon learning of the filing, Mohanraj said she looks forward to a “robust field” in the election but said she has not decided.
Trustee Deno Andrews is another potential candidate for the office – he was courted by the Village Manager Association to run against incumbent Anan Abu-Taleb in 2017, but he declined, instead choosing to run for trustee.
“I’m going to try to make it through 2020 first and then make a decision,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s too far out into the future to make any logical decision about it.”
Andrews added that he is unlikely to make a decision until at least the end of 2020.
There’s also former Trustee Bob Tucker, who chose not to seek a third term on the board of trustees this year. Asked last October whether he planned to run for village president in 2021, Tucker said: “I don’t rule it out.”
In a recent response to the question, Tucker said in an email: “I seem to be getting this question a lot, and I’m flattered. However, I’ve only been off the village board for a couple months, enjoying a little more free time with my family, friends and new volunteer efforts.”
“I also hold a full-time job that I absolutely love, working to help low-income communities thrive in Chicagoland. Having said that, I love and am committed to Oak Park, and I want to see the good work the Board accomplished during my eight years of service continue.”
Tucker said he is likely to make a decision a year from now.
“A lot can happen in a year, and this decision needs to be based on what’s best for Oak Park, not what’s best for me,” Tucker added.
What about Abu-Taleb, though?
He said in an email that the village “deserves leaders with a vision and the leadership skills to build consensus amongst the village board members who are responsible for adopting the best policies for our community and then empowering the staff to execute these policies and attain the established vision.”
“Trustee Boutet’s announcement is a distraction, premature and shortsighted as the new village board has not yet adopted its goals,” Abu-Taleb added. “As For my intentions to seek another term, that is a conversation for next year. I am not ruling it out and I will give it serious consideration at the proper time.”