After a late election night, questions are still unanswered regarding who will serve in the fourth open seat on the Oak Park Public Library board. The spot was won by Saria Lofton, who withdrew from the race March 3, after the deadline had passed to have her name removed from the ballot.
Lofton received 18.04 percent of votes April 6 according to unofficial results from the Cook County Clerk. Voters opted to reelect incumbents Sarah Glavin and Matt Fruth, who will serve a fifth term. Glavin and Fruth received 22.32 percent and 22.26 percent respectively. New to the board is literature professor Madhurima Chakraborty, who snagged the highest number of votes at 22.77 percent. Peter Prokopowicz landed in fifth place receiving 14.61 percent.
What Lofton means to do with her victory remains to be seen as she was not immediately available for comment. Wednesday Journal also awaits response from the Cook County Clerk’s office regarding Lofton’s standing.
If Lofton does not intend to assume the post of trustee, she would need to tender her resignation, according to outgoing Oak Park village clerk and incoming village president Vicki Scaman.
“Assuming she does not wish to accept the position, then she needs to resign,” Scaman said. “And then the same rules would apply when somebody resigns at any point, which would allow members of the board to appoint somebody.”
Library policies and board bylaws do not provide a formal process by which the library board must appoint a trustee, according to Fruth, who currently serves as board president.
“We could have an application process of people who are interested; we could just start doing a random draw of registered voters in Oak Park and call them up and ask them if they want the job,” said Fruth.
The library board could choose to appoint Prokopowoicz.
“He would not be excluded by any means,” said Fruth. “There’s no reason that anyone who meets the criteria of running for the office would be excluded.”
Had Lofton withdrawn her candidacy by Jan. 28, the final day to have names removed from the ballot, the election would have been uncontested and Prokopowoicz would have won the fourth seat by default.
Whether the library will make an appointment hinges on Lofton. Fruth told Wednesday Journal he has not spoken to her since she informed him of her plans to withdraw.
“She said she wouldn’t be able to take the role,” Fruth recalled. “She didn’t specify a reason why.”