Appointed trustee now pushing for local support

Incumbent James Taglia has long history volunteering for Oak Park boards and commissions

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

He started on the campaign trail two years ago but was appointed to a seat on the Oak Park Board of Trustees prior to the election.

Now Trustee James Taglia, the only incumbent running in the April 2 election for Oak Park trustee, must show he has the support of voters.

Taglia was a candidate two years ago when he was appointed to the board to fill the spot left by Trustee Adam Salzman, who left for a job that precluded serving in elected office.

Taglia is known as a consensus builder on the board of trustees, but has been criticized by voters for his support for the high-rise building by Albion Development at the corner of Lake and Forest.

He is a lifelong Oak Park resident and has a history of public service in the village, serving six years as an Oak Park Township trustee, two years on the Community Mental Health Board and nearly 20 years on the board of the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society. He also has served on the Fire Pension Board for the last two years.

He is the co-owner of Pro-Chem-Co, Inc., a chemical manufacturer for the steel industry, and a former franchisee for Red Mango yogurt shop, 1044 Lake St. He closed the business last September saying it was too much to handle with all of his other responsibilities.

Taglia joined four other trustees and Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb – Trustee Simone Boutet was the only no vote for the project – in support of the 18-story luxury high-rise building by Albion Development. This ran against the recommendation of the project by the Oak Park Plan Commission, which did not support the plan. 

He said in a recent telephone interview that he opposes the proposed 28-story building by Golub & Company, which would be located about a half a block away from Unity Temple on Lake Street.

Taglia was unwilling to say how tall luxury buildings should be downtown, deferring to the Unity Temple congregation concerning the Golub proposal. 

"What's important is to get the buy in from Unity Temple," Taglia said. "They are stakeholders and we have to listen to them as stakeholders, and we have to listen to the community. I listen to the community and I hear that they are not happy."

Taglia has said that he would work to provide more overnight parking for renters in the village, but last year he was among the trustees who voted to eliminate a pilot program that would have added 100 additional parking spaces for renters near Washington Boulevard and South Oak Park Avenue. 

The pilot program was killed after about a year of review and recommendation by the Oak Park Transportation Commission, when homeowners complained that renters would park in front of their homes. 

In a telephone interview, Taglia said the board reached a compromise that was a "win-win" for renters and homeowners, adding 164 overnight parking spaces on Madison, Marion and Pleasant streets.

Taglia said in an interview that he did not recall that homeowners complained about the pilot program and it was altered to remove overnight parking near renters' homes. 

"I hate to tell you, but I don't recall that particular part," he said.

Taglia said he would work to maintain the tax levy at an annual increase of no more than 3 percent, but he declined to say how the board should achieve that goal. He said the goal is to reduce spending but not cut services.

"The one thing we don't want to do is raise our taxes; I'm not for that," Taglia said. 

The board would work to "economize in terms of staffing, and I believe that we'll get there," Taglia said. "I just don't think we're going to cut any programs; we really don't want to cut any services – it is a goal."

The 3-percent levy increase goal is a recommendation from the Taxing Bodies Efficiencies Task Force, which was established by the village last year to explore ways to reduce taxes and possibly consolidate government entities, such as the village and the township.

Asked if he supported consolidation of the village and township, Taglia said, "I don't view that as something that is likely at all." 

He declined to say whether he would support consolidation, but noted that the public voted in a non-binding referendum to explore the idea of consolidation. 

"The path to get there would take a decade," Taglia said.  


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Reader Comments

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2019 2:54 PM

Yeah, and no studying has been done. So they have a vote and completely ignore the results. And Dist 200 is now doing capital projects without referendums. Why even have votes around this town. We can just have Trustees voted in by a handful of people, who do whatever they are feeling that day.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: March 14th, 2019 12:02 PM

Tom, the vote was not on consolidation itself, it was a vote about studying the issue of consolidation..

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2019 10:13 AM

The public voted on consolidation and want it. The public did not vote on the IZ, but that got the speed treatment. So why don't you work on what voters said they actually wanted instead of not doing anything because you think it will take a long time to do.

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