Election Day 2021 has come and nearly gone. Won’t be fully gone until final votes are tabulated by the county clerk and a couple of very close races are decided, until a winning candidate for the Oak Park library board announces if her imperfect attempt to withdraw from the race means she’ll claim the seat or resign after she is sworn in.

In many ways this was a peculiar election season.

Two sitting trustees on the Oak Park village board announced they were running for village president and later dropped out. Trustee Dan Moroney dropped out once. Trustee Simone Boutet dropped out twice. Got to be a record. Trustee Deno Andrews announced his plan to run for re-election before announcing he would not run.

So much for the stellar trio of candidates elected to the village board by voters in 2017. Their farewell speeches at the upcoming final meeting of this board ought to be inconclusive.

Meanwhile a candidate for the River Forest District 90 elementary schools withdrew from the race and was then elected to office. Scott Hall gets credit for actually filling out the correct paperwork with the county clerk that made his withdrawal official. That means the runner-up in the race, Sarah Eckmann, will be seated as Hall’s votes will not be certified by the county.

Sariah Lofton, a candidate for the library board in Oak Park, withdrew without ever explaining why. She, however, failed the withdrawal test from the county and so her votes will be certified and she is duly elected. When the Journal asked her last week if she would serve or resign, she issued a definitive “no comment.” Altogether odd. 

If she resigns from the board once she is seated then the library board gets to appoint a replacement. Doesn’t look like it will be the runner-up in that race, though, as Peter Prokopowicz has stepped in it on social media.

Want to be on the library board? This might be just the opportunity you are looking for.

At the township level in Oak Park there was a widely contested race for trustee. A very unusual occurrence. As of this writing, incumbent Eric Davis is 21 votes ahead of challenger Jacquelyn Rodriguez. As far as I know, neither has withdrawn, left the state or insulted anyone on social media. Just a close race.

Another close race which was almost a stunning upset was at Triton College.

There Mark Stephens, the seeming chairman for life, held on to a board seat by a sliver. Stephens, he of the Rosemont Stephenses, has built quite a nest at Triton, a community college with a lot of money and contracts, not much ambition and which gets too little attention. The victory of Norma Hernandez for a board seat has the potential to make debates more open.

In both the Oak Park District 97 elementary schools and at Oak Park and River Forest High School, the candidates who chose to run self-selected into a group fairly well aligned with the progressive equity policies of each district. 

So worries, and I had some, that the headway on equity could be derailed are of less concern. That steadiness will be critical as both districts will start the next school year with new superintendents. 

If things go as planned, the outgoing District 200 board will appoint its next superintendent this week. And D97 is looking to hire one, maybe two, interim leaders for the next school year.

Both Oak Park and River Forest elected the somewhat more moderate candidate for village president, though each might argue being termed moderate. Vicki Scaman will head a village board notably remade and hopefully more cohesive than the past board. Hard and complex issues are ahead, from finances to equity, public safety to infrastructure. 

Cathy Adduci easily won a third term in River Forest. Her board will need to choose a new village administrator. How much of an inside track does Lisa Scheiner, the acting administrator, have? Will be interesting to see. And in Oak Park will Village Manager Cara Pavlicek choose to stay, be encouraged to stay? Big decision.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...