Oak Park Village Clerk Vicki Scaman is ready to begin campaigning in earnest for village president. While her opponents have already begun efforts to promote their candidacies and talk to the press, Scaman told Wednesday Journal she felt it wrong to begin campaign activities prior to the village board passing the 2021 budget.
“I take my role as village clerk very seriously,” Scaman said. “To undermine my colleagues as they’re navigating budget season, I don’t feel would be appropriate or ethical as the sitting village clerk.”
Instead of partaking in the COVID-19 equivalent to hand shaking and baby kissing, Scaman focused on building her volunteer committee. Now that the budget has passed, she is ready to embark on the proverbial campaign trail.
“I’m stepping forward to run for village president because it’s a crucial time in our history,” she said.
Scaman’s term as village clerk ends in April. She had always anticipated running for a second term but given the difficulties of 2020 and the position of the village, she changed her mind, setting her sights instead on village president.
“We need somebody that has experience in directing policy, somebody who’s experienced listening to the community and navigating our systems,” Scaman said. “Somebody who’s actually worked with our other governmental partners for community-level goals.”
Throughout her career, Scaman has worked as a teacher, a businesswoman, a non-profit leader and an elected official. She served as the chairperson of the village’s liquor board and was a founding member of Parents for Student Success at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Scaman was a member of the coalition of parents, former police chief Rick Tanksley and township officials that brought youth adjudication to the village.
“I’m talking decades that I’ve been involved,” said Scaman, who also raised her children in Oak Park.
She’s also an advocate for transparency, sustainability, restorative justice and racial equity. She helped organize the June 4 Black Lives Matter march with State Representatives Camille Lilly and LaShawn Ford.
Scaman is running against part-time park district employee Cate Readling, as well as current village board trustees Simone Boutet and Dan Moroney. Readling, Boutet and Scaman fall on the progressive end of the political spectrum, but Scaman thinks it unwise to categorize the candidates based purely on sex or political ideals.
“One of the challenges that I think has contributed to polarization in our community is this attempt to put people in boxes,” said Scaman, who noted she’d been pushing progressive issues and doing equity work before they became everyday topics.
“It shouldn’t be man versus women.”
Rather, candidates should articulate why residents should cast ballots in their favor, said Scaman.
While her current role as village clerk requires her to be virtually silent during board meetings to maintain neutrality, Scaman wants voters to know she has the capability to lead conversations and rein in unproductive behavior.
“I don’t use that as village clerk because it’s not appropriate, but I do have that skill set,” she said.
As village president, Scaman has plans to utilize an approach of collaboration among Oak Park taxing bodies to maximize resources and push progress toward specific goals.
“My strategies are to make sure that our goals and the goals of our community partners around sustainability, racial equity and economic recovery are linked,” she said.
Scaman would bring into office with her the relationships she’s built across governmental bodies. Beyond that, she doesn’t think the village can afford to take on those issues alone.
“We’re, quite frankly, not going to have the money to do it any other way,” Scaman said.
With her extensive background working in the community, Scaman is confident she is the person Oak Park needs to lead it through pandemic recovery, to stoke progress socially and to fashion a more unified village.
“If I didn’t feel I was the best candidate, I wouldn’t be running,” she said.