(Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Boutet is funding and starting a small business in Washington. She is not joining a family business in Washington.)
Oak Park Trustee Simone Boutet said Wednesday that she is leaving the race for village president as she pursues an opportunity to start a small business based in rural Washington State. Boutet said in an interview with Wednesday Journal that she will serve out her term as a trustee and is not planning to leave her Oak Park home.
However, the requirements of the business mean that she will be spending weeks at a time in the northwest.
“I will be in the state of Washington a good deal of the time during the election season. I’ll be back and forth,” but cannot serve as village president, she said.
“I was not looking to change my life,” she said but “two or three weeks ago” the business opportunity presented itself. Boutet declined to say the type of business she will be joining.
“It is sort of a joyful thought to return to private life and not have to explain my life to everyone,” she said.
Boutet served for many years as the assistant village attorney for Oak Park. She also served briefly as the acting village attorney following the retirement of Ray Heise.
She ran for village trustee in 2017 and won convincingly.
“I’ve had a lot of support in the community. People know my interest in good government. They see I dedicate more time than other trustees and that I know exactly what I’m talking about. People trust me,” said Boutet.
She said, “the hardest part is I’m disappointing a lot of people.”
Boutet criticized the current village board and administration. “This board has worked very slow to make progress. We take too much time off. We are not fluid in communication on things like policing.” She was also critical of the board for not being aggressive in creating a climate action plan though she said there has been recent progress.
And Boutet said the village staff was focused on “too much control and not enough grassroots democracy.” She said the village needs to do a better job of engaging and listening to citizens.
Boutet said she was speculating but believes additional candidates will join the race for village president in her absence. “I think there will be more presidential candidates, that my leaving will create thoughts of other people stepping up.”
Without Boutet in the race, the other current candidates for village president are Village Clerk Vicki Scaman and Cate Readling, a local activist.
Boutet did not rule out an eventual endorsement in the race but said, “I don’t like to be against people.”