Gibbs touts record, village stability in re-election bid

Wants to see through proposed building projects, TIF success

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By BOB SKOLNIK

Contributing Reporter

Michael Gibbs hopes that experience matters in the River Forest village trustee race. Gibbs is the only incumbent running for re-election in the five-person race for three seats on the village board. He is seeking his third term on the village board and if elected would become the most senior member of the village board.

"I've been doing a good job, I'm just looking for a chance to continue on," Gibbs said.

Gibbs says that he was struck by the lack of criticism of the current state of River Forest by the other candidates at a recent candidate forum.

"No one's criticizing the current status, the current wellbeing of the village, so the current board must be doing a pretty good job if there's no criticisms of the condition of the village right now," Gibbs said. "Usually other people would run because they think that things need to be corrected with village government. There hasn't been a single statement along those lines from my competition, so I guess the village is in pretty good shape."

Gibbs was first elected to the village board in 2009. In 2013 he ran for village president but lost to Cathy Adduci. 

Despite their contest in 2013, which Adduci won overwhelmingly, Gibbs says that he now has an excellent relationship with Adduci. In 2015, he was elected again to the village board. 

Gibbs says that he wants to serve one more term on the village board to see through some major projects, such as the senior living facility at Chicago and Harlem and the development of a five-story mixed use building at Lake and Lathrop.

He said that he wants to stick around to make sure the new TIF districts created for North Avenue and Madison Street, which he voted for, fulfill their potential as well as promises made about the impact of the senior building at Chicago and Harlem.

"I feel it's important that I be able to fulfill those promises," Gibbs said. "If one board makes all these commitments to the neighborhood and then no one is around to fulfill those promises, then that's not a good situation."

Gibbs, 57, works as salesman and elevator inspector for the Anderson Elevator Company. He has lived in River Forest since 1989.

Gibbs believes than continued economic development is vital for River Forest.

"If a municipality is not growing, it's dying," Gibbs said.

He particularly wants to see the planned new building at Lake and Lathrop be built. He hopes that a restaurant will fill the ground-floor commercial space. The upper four stories are planned to be higher-end condominiums. He is anxious to see shovels in the ground there.

"I don't think that's too far off," Gibbs said. "We have the agreement in place with the developer. All the properties have been acquired, and I think people will be excited when all of sudden they see the construction equipment show up and start moving along with that."

Gibbs said the new senior living facility planned for Chicago and Harlem will be a boon for seniors who want to sell their large homes but remain in River Forest. The development is expected to add about $600,000 in tax revenue, of which about $70,000 will go to the village, without causing much additional traffic congestion or a strain on the schools, Gibbs said.

Gibbs wants the village to maintain its strong financial position and continue to balance its budget.

"I personally will not spend a dollar that I don't have, and any governmental agency that does that, you should replace every one of them," Gibbs said.

Gibbs leans right politically on national issues but he says that he doesn't think that should be a factor in a municipal race.

"Some people function with their federal politics on their sleeves," Gibbs said. "I would prefer that people don't think of municipal politics like that. I would prefer that people would address this race as which of the candidates is the best for the village."

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