Outgoing Oak Park village president, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb has given his endorsement to the Unite Oak Park candidate slate for village trustee. Unite Oak Park’s slate consists of Stephen Morales, Lucia Robinson and Ravi Parakkat.
However Abu-Taleb did not endorse a candidate for Oak Park village president.
“Ravi, Stephen, and Lucia have a clear vision for change and a drive to move our community forward in the areas of racial equity, economic recovery from the pandemic, environmental sustainability and the many other issues village government must address in the years to come,” said Abu-Taleb in a statement to Wednesday Journal.
Abu-Taleb’s last year in office was characterized by social isolation, economic turmoil and a global health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 virus, which he reflected upon in his statement:
“Today some village board candidates criticize the village government as if we just got here without much work and sacrifice. As if the pandemic never happened. Forgetting its impact on lives, its impact on small businesses, and our society, and economy at large. Priorities had to be shifted, but a lot has been done and much has been accomplished, however there is so much more to be done.”
Abu-Taleb said he trusts that Morales, Robinson and Parakkat will help the village successfully overcome the remaining obstacles presented by the pandemic.
“We need village board members that are committed to public service, provide sound judgment, are willing to compromise and have a good understanding of the financial burden the village now faces,” his statement reads. “And without drama, political slogan and sound bites.”
If elected, Robinson will be the only attorney on the village board. Abu-Taleb called having an attorney on the board “extremely helpful” when discussing policies and issues.
Parakkat and Morales received the mayor’s backing for their “commitment to public service” by serving as leaders in community organizations and sitting on citizen commissioners. Both Parakkat and Morales are members of the Environment and Energy Commission. Morales also chairs the Community Development Citizen Advisory Committee.
“These candidates recognize that our village and its great people want to live in a community that is accepting of everyone and welcoming to everyone,” said Abu-Taleb. “I hope you will join me to vote for Ravi, Stephen and Lucia.”
The mayor has also endorsed Christina Waters for village clerk, as well as Fred Arkin and Tom Cofsky for District 200 Oak Park and River Forest High School and incumbent Cathy Adduci for River Forest village president.
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“She has been a great public servant. She is a gifted leader. She has my support and admiration,” said Abu-Taleb of Adduci.
Notably absent from Abu-Taleb’s endorsements were the two candidates running to fill the seat he is vacating – Village Clerk Vicki Scaman and Cate Readling. However, he made clear his feelings regarding the latter candidate.
“Cate Readling has not shown the necessary grasp of municipal government and I would not recommend a vote for Cate,” said Abu-Taleb. “Above all, I will support the choice of the voters whoever that may be. And I will do everything I can to help the voters’ choice succeed.”