Oak Park trustee challengers sweep election

No wins for Village Manager Association-backed candidates

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The three new trustees on the Oak Park village board beat incumbents backed by the Village Manager Association (VMA) by wide margins in Tuesday's municipal election.

The VMA-endorsed candidate for village clerk came closer but was unable to capture a victory for the local organization.

It's the first time in memory that the VMA has not seen a single candidate elected to office.

With all 37 precincts reporting, newcomer Dan Moroney had 23.3 percent of the vote, his running mate Deno Andrews had 23.2 percent and Simone Boutet had 20.3 percent of the vote total. VMA incumbents rounded out the field with Peter Barber at 17.6 percent and Glenn Brewer at 15.7 percent.

Vicki Scaman, an independent candidate for village clerk led with 32.7 percent, followed by VMA-backed Lori Malinski at 27.7 percent; Masaru Takiguchi at 17.3 percent; James Robinson-Parran at 12 percent; and Elia Gallegos at 10.3 percent.

Andrews and Moroney celebrated their solid win with supporters at Andrews' fast-food restaurant Felony Franks, 6427 W. North Ave.

"I am humbled that the voters of Oak Park have put their trust in me to serve as trustee," Moroney said in an interview. "It's something I've committed all of myself to for the last six months, and I just look forward to serving … and working on the themes I've talked about during my campaign.

"Those are meaningful intergovernmental collaboration, thoughtful development and committing to Oak Park values."

Andrews thanked supporters and voters, noting that after living 46 years in the village "I've met more Oak Parkers in the last five months than I have in the last 10 years."

"The fact that so many people have put their trust in me and Dan is humbling," he said. "It's really incredible and I look forward to serving, and I really look forward to bringing a high level of fiduciary responsibility to the board, a lot more transparency and communication."

Boutet celebrated the victory at Scratch on Lake restaurant, 733 Lake St., thanking her family, friends and volunteers for their support during the campaign.

"I look forward to the real work which starts now," she said. "The more interesting and fun part is the actual service. I think we're going to be a strong board."

Boutet said she was grateful to incumbent candidates Barber and Brewer "for their years of service to the community, and I hope they will stay engaged in meaningful ways."

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Kevin Peppard from Oak park  

Posted: April 11th, 2017 1:16 PM

Leslie Roberts: Here is a link to some of what you are looking for: http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/results/Documents/SummaryReport40417.pdf In the Village President election, 876 people cast write-in votes against Abu-Taleb, for 9.09% of the Village President vote (many people didn't bother voting in that race, since it was uncontested). None of those write-ins counted, since no one registered as a write-in in time, and Mickey Mouse is a resident of Anaheim, California (he winters in Orlando). That is an exceptionally large protest vote. By comparison, Ali ElSaffar ran unopposed for Township Assessor, and only 0.53% cast write-ins against him, so you could say that Abu-Taleb is 18 times less popular. It's not an ethnic prejudice thing, since both have Arab first names and surnames, so that factor washes out. There are 37,801 registered voters in Oak Park, although some of those have probably died recently or moved, and are not yet scrubbed from the voting rolls. 12, 493 of them were issued ballots, but may not have voted in all races. That's 33.05%, an abysmal turnout, but higher than normal for an off-year election.. Find more details by Googling the Cook County Clerk's website, something the Wednesday Journal seems not to know how to do.

Leslie Roberts from Oak Park  

Posted: April 11th, 2017 10:41 AM

Thank you to Christine Vernon and to Galen Gockel for providing the important information of voter turn out and write-in's which put the election in perspective. Journalist should be providing those facts. Therefore it is a good thing that WJ relies on the citizens in their comments at a significant cost savings. Where is the official number of eligible voters, the official number of ballots issued, the official total votes for each candidate, and the official number of write-ins for each candidate, especially those technically unopposed. Write-ins are a way of saying "none of the above". Congratulations to our new trustees and our new clerk.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: April 10th, 2017 10:29 PM

The village board did not meet this week. Perhaps a reset is needed for the board members. Perhaps the board is figuring how to operated as individuals after four years of cumbaya and 7-0 votes. The new board will be a voice rather than seats without opinions. Welcome to our new board members. We need you!!

Willie Mack from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2017 7:53 PM

I witnessed the demise of Woodlawn, Englewood, Austin, Auburn-Gresham. Citizens, then, thought that the good reputation of their community's name would keep the criminals out. They underestimated the greed of the racketeers in real estate and drivers of drugs. I hope that the citizens of Oak Park do not make a similar mistake and rely solely on public officials, who may have become too ambitious for Oak Park's benefit. When their transactions stop being transparent, it signals that a severe correction is warranted. Our mere complaints become insufficient. Stricter measures are needed because public safety is still very important. Unchecked petty crimes soon breed rampant and vigorous violence. Criminals should not ever feel comfortable in Oak Park. As concerned and vigilant citizens, we must maintain checks and balances in order to avoid fraud and corruption. Whether they be in public office or on the streets, we must monitor all potential predators.

Ellen Mrazek from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2017 10:35 AM

Just an FYI, a campaign worker was handing out blue Boutet cards ten feet from the door of my polling place at Percy Julian Middle School around 6:40 pm Tuesday. A poll worker asked him to go away when I approached ?" not for the first time that day. The poll workers realized everyone had been entering the polling place holding blue cards. Uncool.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: April 6th, 2017 10:52 PM

Hi Bruce - The election results give us a sense that the recent years of resident being ignored by village hall and the board is over. Seemingly, we will have a say in our government when the "new board members" take their seats. The "old board members" will be ready to help you make voting your decision. How helpful! Will the board members who ran the village for the last four years be ready to listen to the new board member ideas? Or will the "old board members" stack the deck to ensure that the "developers" maintain their power. Getting elected is not a victory. Getting elected is an opportunity to make change. Success requires guts and an ability to listen to those that believe in you and gave you the vote. Listen to them!

Bruce Kline  

Posted: April 6th, 2017 7:42 PM

Butch: Please elaborate on your "maybe" comment. Really. I really, really am curious to know what you mean by it.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: April 6th, 2017 4:16 PM

The level of involvement in our community is a great asset maybe!

J.Martin Konecki  

Posted: April 6th, 2017 3:49 PM

The VMA is not dead by any stretch. It's my understanding that had the VMA chose Deno and Dan (not sure if Simone was interviewed for VMA nominating committee), that we'd be looking at a VMA sweep. I know it's tough when you have great incumbents and newcomers. Ultimately the VMA may have felt they needed to support who brought them to the dance. The great part of Oak Park is that at the end of the day we all are ONE community. We can differ respectfully on some things but agree and be proud of what Oak Park has been and is for most of us. The level of involvement in our community is a great asset in my mind. Onward ?

Christine Vernon  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 10:02 PM

This is an amazing election and turnout. If the numbers stated below are accurate, 12,000+ people is still a relatively shameful turnout where there is a population of 52,000 people. Even in the 1930's there was a 20,000 votes for some candidates, still not a good turnout! But relatively speaking, a good turnout since, in recent years, a Village President & Trustees could get into office with as little as 6,000 votes. That happens when you have a 60 year old political machine running Oak Park. The incentive to vote withers and dies. The new turnout, a credit, to new Oak Parkers determined to eliminate one party rule and to have a voice in government is a breath of fresh air.. Even 8,000 votes for Village President Anan Abu-Taleb, if accurate is simply amazing because people often do not vote for a candidate who runs unopposed, 8,000 votes! I think this shows the amount of respect Anan has gained since he took office four years ago. Controversy about development has grown, it's true, and it needs to be determined now where residents stand. I hope that this new Board will come together and will work well together unlike what we see between the warring factions in Washington, D.C. on the National Level where elected officials don't seem able to put people as a priority over egos and fighting. And please don't mimic our ineffective State Legislature Both places, there is no respect for one another and sometimes for good reason, but it doesn't work to get work constituents need to happen.. All that needs to happen is for everyone to work in the best interest of Oak Park, listen to what residents want, and not impose only what they personally want or think is best for Oak Park - disregarding public opinion of what Oak Parkers want, which seemed always to be the way of the VMA. Egos stand down! I What a beautiful thing it would be if collectively, together, you can all get it right now and restore the Oak Park we feel proud of, bringing meaning to that pride.

Robert Milstein from Oak Park   

Posted: April 5th, 2017 8:12 PM

Why were the incumbentsTrustees defeated? 1- No VMA slate which made the endorsement less meaningful. The party looked "dead". 2- The quality of the opposition was very high, and they were smart candidates that had a vision of our Village's future. 3- Journal's gender smear, and dismissive attitude, of Trustee elect Boutet backfired. 4- VMA candidates trying to make the legal challenge a race issue vs. a legal issue failed to gain traction as it is a false narrative. 5- Faux Mayor's appointment of Trustee Taglia before the election was a flip flop based on his belief the incumbents would win; thus, Albion would be a done deal. Oh, in my opinion, Taglia would have lost the election. 6- The anointment of a Mayor angered many citizens as we are not a mayoral system. Symbolism does matter, just read US history about General George Washington. 7- Anan Abu Taleb's wishes for a 6 figure salary. If he needs the money just sell the restaurant, but do not take our tax dollars. 8- Albion's request for variances from our current laws. Zoning exists for a reason. 9- Shadows and dog feces on/in Austin Gardens 10- Candidate challenge on legal issue of eligibility to be on the ballot. 11- Large number of candidates running for various offices increased the turnout of voters 12- School referenda increased the turnout of voters. 13- The incumbents were the Yes men to Abu Taleb's vision of Schaum Park 14. WJ editorial Board is led by a resident of Berwyn. A few more than a voter's 13 reasons to vote as they did ...just pondering.

Richard Holland  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 7:34 PM

Jay, I -do- think the 30% was a protest. I doubt people just skipped the screen/part of the ballot as a matter of course. Did all of the other unopposed candidates have a 30% non-vote/write in. I think many people are frustrated by the approach the village has taken in recent years and, frankly, the hubris with which hey have done so. I have attended forums with various members of village government and watched them dodge questions and be condescending. I know several who have stayed they could not cast a positive vote for Anan and intended to vote som form of "no" or objection in lieu of an alternative. Pity there was no opposition candidate , like the mayor or no at least having an opponent would keep him on his toes and more interested in the opinions of his consitituants that he seems to be.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 4:54 PM

Jay - I agree that it makes little sense to vote for the board president when there is no opponent. Frequently, board presidents will participate in an election despite the lack of a opponent. Many choose to run for the office even though there is no opposition. Anan seems to have skipped the vote and therefore had no representation in the election. I don't think that helped any of incumbents.

Jay Butler  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 4:09 PM

David G. - I'm not sure it means anything that "30% of OP voters decided not to vote for Abu-Taleb. Maybe they just didn't see any reason to take the time to mark the ballot when there was no other candidate?? I for one did not vote any of the uncontested races.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 2:44 PM

Richard - You hit a home run with your statement, "Let's get some logic, transparency and accountability back in the village decision making process." A new day is born!!!!

Richard Holland from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 2:43 PM

I would love, love, love to see a printout of the write-in names/comments.

Galen Gockel from oak park  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 2:14 PM

In my home precinct, 14.5 percent of the voters who took the time to vote in the uncontested race for Village President (a/k/a mayor) actually cast their vote for 'write-in', then entered another name. I suspect that would be a record number if these data were kept. BTW, Simone came in first here, with Deno and Dan 4 votes behind her. The avalanche of post-mortems will be fascinating to read.

Richard Holland from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 2:08 PM

I am delighted to see some new faces who are not going to simply rubber stamp the "build at all cost" agenda we have had recently. Now maybe the 20M waste of taxpayer money and resources known as "the bend" will get the reasoned examination it has sorely lacked to date. Can the new agenda start with disbanding the OPEDC which exists solely to skirt open meetings rules. Let's get some logic, transparency and accountability back in the village decision making process. Let's hope this is a turning point and "Mayor" Anan will reexamine his "some people will be unhappy but I was voted in to boost business and they have to deal with it" approach,

David Gulbransen  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 11:13 AM

"It's also a damn shame neither of them felt they were in a position to challenge Mr. Abu-Taleb and run against him for village President." Agreed. I think he would have been much more vulnerable that most people thought...

David Gulbransen  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 11:03 AM

Here's another interesting tidbit... there were 12,330 ballots cast in OP. Yet Abu-Taleb only received 8,644 votes. He ran unopposed, and yet *30%* of Oak Park voters still decided to leave that ballot choice blank. I certainly hope he takes that to heart--because it does mean something.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 10:59 AM

@Wendynal, it's too bad both Mr. Barber and Mr. Brewer had the misfortune of being incumbents at a time when many residents are unhappy with the direction our "village" seems to be taking. It's also a damn shame neither of them felt they were in a position to challenge Mr. Abu-Taleb and run against him for village President.

David Gulbransen  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 10:41 AM

Congrats to Mr. Andrews, Mr. Moroney, and Ms. Boutet!! I think Mr. Barber and Mr. Brewer should be thanked for their service to Oak Park--but I think this is an important election for several reasons. The results clearly show that the citizens of Oak Park were unhappy with the performance and direction of the current Board. That's something it's important for the other incumbents to hear and (hopefully) take to heart. I know, for me, I'd posed policy questions to *all* of the candidates, and the three victors all responded, but *neither* of the incumbents did. Andrews, Moroney, and Boutet bring new ideas and more importantly, they *engaged* and *listened* to the people of Oak Park. If they do nothing more than get the other Board members to listen and engage more, it will be a good victory for the Village--but I'm really hoping they can accomplish even more!!

Wendynal C. Daniels  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 10:39 AM

So, am I wrong but is the village board now all white? It never ceases to amaze me that in a village that constantly touts its commitment to diversity, that we can celebrate a board that doesn't reflect that. I congratulate those who've won and hope the decisions they and the other trustees are good ones for all residents. But I'm always concerned when a representative for a large percentage of constituents, and taxpayers, are not at the table.

Barbara Joan  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 10:37 AM

Hope for real change is in the air; out with the old and in with the new.__

Joyce Porter from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 9:23 AM

I think the results reflect the feelings of so many residents I have talked to who feel that too many high rises are being built in the downtown area.. Congratulations to the winners.

Joyce Porter from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 9:19 AM

I think the results reflect the feelings of so many residents I have talked to who feel that too many high rises are being built in the downtown area.. Congratulations to the winners.

Tina Harle from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 8:40 AM

I think the people of Oak Park have spoken. Transparency in our government is important and we wanted a change. Also so proud of Simone Boutet, despite the truly awful remarks that Wednesday Journal made about her she still won. Congratulations to Deno and Dan also! I have faith these 3 will do a wonderful job.

John H. Wilharm III  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 7:59 AM

No more hate and intolerance in the OP! Yeah!

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 6:48 AM

Sorry, Mr.Lawless, the VMA, stands for Very Much Alive, it is just bidding its time, ready to sneak back into action. Beaten perhaps, but still alive. Death will come after a few more losses. Like Churchill said, "this could be the beginning of the end"

Ron Lawless  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 6:14 AM

Congratulations to the winners in the election for trustees and village clerk. Can we officially claim the VMA dead? A true progressive power is now in Oak Park. Vicki, you are inspiring and a good person and you deserve this win. I know you will do a great job in your newly elected position.

Natalie Rauch Kelly  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 2:07 AM

Yay to Deno, Dan, and Simone!

Gail Nam from Chicago  

Posted: April 5th, 2017 12:56 AM

Thank you for your service Glenn! I could draw parallels but I won't. I know you will continue to do good things!

David Phelps  

Posted: April 4th, 2017 10:42 PM

Time for significant change in the decision making process .....be great trustees.

J.Martin Konecki  

Posted: April 4th, 2017 10:39 PM

Oak Park Wins!!!! It's tough when so many quality people run for office. It looks like it was an Oak Park record for voter turnout. Bravo

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