No slate for VCA in April

Unless others emerge, Oak Park village board race could be uncontested


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

The Village Manager Association — the political party that has won nearly every village board election in Oak Park since the 1950s — might already be adding another notch to its belt, five months before the next local election.

The rival political party that challenged the VMA in 2009 announced last week that it won't be putting together a slate of candidates to compete for three open spots on the village board.

However, leaders of both the VCA and a VMA candidate said they have heard of planning by independent candidates contemplating making the race.

But in terms of fielding a slate, "there just isn't enough people," said Gary Schwab, president of the Village Citizens Alliance.

They've cycled through their Rolodex and there doesn't seem to be sufficient interest to form an opposition, he said. A group of residents banded together earlier this year, trying to oppose a controversial downtown Oak Park hotel tower, but those individuals aren't looking to become politicians, he said.

Schwab and others still plan to host any interested Oak Parkers in a group called "Citizens for Community Conversation," with a get together scheduled for 2 p.m., Nov. 21, at the Barrie Park field house. There, the VCA hopes to get a dialogue going about local political issues. Schwab says he's troubled by the lack of discussion between elections.

The VCA is also willing to support or assist any independent candidates who need help.

"It is our position that having a healthy political debate in Oak Park is a good idea," Schwab' said.

Meanwhile, the VMA has announced that it is slating two-term incumbent Ray Johnson, along with two veterans from Oak Park's volunteer citizen commissions — Bob Tucker and Adam Salzman.

Johnson agreed with Schwab that it would be better for Oak Park to have a competitive election next April — though both men said they've heard that some independent candidates are planning to join the race. Neither, however, would name those candidates.

Schwab worried Johnson, Tucker and Salzman will fly under the radar and not talk to the public if the race is uncontested.

"Why get any attention if you have a meeting and people just come out and call you names when you know you're going to get elected anyway?" he said.

Johnson said that the "Citizens for Accountable Leadership" slate of candidates will campaign in the same fashion, regardless of who they're running against.

"Whether there's competition or not, we need to engage with the public," he said, later adding. "Contested or not contested, we need to do outreach and learn from people in regards to what they view as the future for Oak Park.

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Reader Comments

8 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Comment Policy

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2010 5:33 PM

I believe that many years ago, before we moved here, there was a system by which neighborhoods had specific representatives, as is the case now in Chicago. Perhaps the good government folks thought the system looked too much like the Chicago system, given Chicago's history of corruption.Anyway, I agree-we need to resurrect it, at least in a limited way, without the bureaucracy surrounding Chicago aldermen. Currently, the Village government is not particularly responsive to ordinary citizens.

JMK from Oak Park  

Posted: November 15th, 2010 10:49 PM

Gregg, I'm confused with your logic. If they support those in power yet endorse others, where's the "support" ? I think the people who buy real estate ads are the real estate companies in OP who sell real estate to ALL, not just the voting base in OP. I do not believe WJ is segregating themselves by endorsing any particular group. Clearly you are unfamiliar with how the paper interviews each and EVERY candidate before making such decisions.

Gregg Kuenster from OP  

Posted: November 15th, 2010 5:03 PM

Mr. JMK.You may be correct I do not recall if the Journal backed Mr. Pope when he ran independent. Pope won.That does not change the facts. The Journal, LIKE MOST PAPERS, exclusively backs those in power. It is good business. Who is buying the real estate ads? OP like most towns is tightly controlled politically and publically.I believe national politics is the same. Why did the insurance and drug companies write the health care bill?The power is not right wing or left wing.

JMK from Oak Park  

Posted: November 15th, 2010 2:36 PM

Mr. Kuenster, With all due respect, The WJ endorsements of Village President's have mostly LOST. Not sure on the Trustees though.


Posted: November 14th, 2010 10:39 AM

Or it could be that the VMA Board we now enjoy has done an effective job addressing (though solving is going to take a while) many the Village's problems, that changing it back to the same set of cartoon egomaniacs would be pointless. Can anyone imagine Bob Milstein running again after single-handedly paralyzing Village government for years? Give the VMA the board as long as they keep producing results and remain rational adults in the process.

Steven Rouse from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 9:41 AM

John: As I recall the direct representation system was scrapped years ago, you are suggesting a return to a Chicago style system that has many flaws of its own. Your answer to getting more involvement by bannning slates is anti-democratic at best.

Gregg Kuenster from op  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 2:10 AM

All hail to the PARTY!The Journal is an arm of the party and has always supported the VMA. If you do not like it Move Somewhere Else.Nothing here folks, move along, show is over.

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 1:32 AM

The slate is the winner. Not the candidate, the power of the slate. It will be difficult to find independent candidates that can fund an election bid. The entry price is about 10G's and there is no political clubs to help raise it. Independents will find it hard to raise the money to take on a well-organized, well-healed VMA slate. Is anyone in the village ready for campaign reform. How about no slates? How about an alderman system so neighborhoods will have direct representation?

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