Kevin Jackson

The surprise fourth finalist in the Oak Park village manager search has come out on top. Kevin Jackson, former deputy city manager of Long Beach, California, is set to become Oak Park’s first Black village manager. Village President Vicki Scaman confirmed to Wednesday Journal Jackson has accepted the job offer.

“I’m excited for the very specific areas of experience he has that are really closely tied to our board goals,” said Scaman.

Such areas of experience include walking communities through citizen police oversight reformation, helping small businesses navigate economic recovery and incorporating sustainability into local government, according to Scaman.

“He also has some significant experience around affordable housing,” said Scaman.

Jackson’s “unique community engagement approach,” which Scaman described as “being very present” and “meeting people where they’re at,” resonated with her personally.

Wednesday Journal has reached out to Jackson for comment.

Jackson beat out Interim Village Manager Lisa Shelley for the position, as well as Eric Johnson of Carpentersville and Lionel Lyons of Petersburg, Virginia. Those three were the original finalists in consideration before Jackson entered into the picture Feb. 1.

Shelley told Wednesday Journal she intends to stay on as deputy village manager, the role she held before becoming interim village manager due to the departure of Cara Pavlicek.

“Lisa Shelley is an enormous asset,” said Scaman. “We’re exceedingly grateful for her many years of service.”

The village president was clear that the decision not to offer Shelley the position permanently was not at all due to a lack of ability or proficiency on Shelley’s part. Rather, the village president felt Shelley had not had the opportunity to acquire experience in the fields that made Jackson the preferred candidate.

“The reality is that Oak Park just hasn’t gone there yet,” said Scaman. “There were discussions that the previous board had avoided that this board is ready to engage in fully.”

The village board is set to approve Jackson’s appointment Feb. 22, so as to allow him time to settle his affairs before he and his family relocate to Oak Park. Scaman said Jackson intends to live in the village, although the village board dropped the position’s residency requirement.

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