Oak Park Village Trustee: Buchanan, Taglia, Wesley

Opinion

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By Editorial

There are 11 candidates running for three open seats on Oak Park's village board. It is a record number and it is our unassailable conclusion that it is also a record in terms of sheer breadth of talent. These are, to a person, bright, passionate, decent Oak Parkers. As a group this is a most diverse mix of races, genders, sexual orientations, ages, and, as long as you lean a little left, the most politically open candidacies in our experience.

We are impressed. 

But elections are about making choices and here are the three candidates we endorse in the April 2 election:

Susan Buchanan, Jim Taglia and Cory Wesley.

Dr. Susan Buchanan gets our support for the simple reason that she sees complexity. When she discusses local issues — could be taxes, housing, buildings tall or short — she acknowledges that the choices ahead aren't simple, aren't black and white. And she is so right.

This doesn't make her wishy-washy, doesn't make her answers vague. But those answers reflect nuance, an openness to listen, to learn, to persuade and be persuaded. Those are fantastic and often rare qualities on an elected board

Buchanan has the right stuff in talking about sustainability, housing, equity, taxes, transparency. It's how she talks about it all that is so strong and welcome.

Jim Taglia is the only incumbent running among the 11. And because he was appointed to fill out an unexpired term, this is his first direct appeal to voters for support. We offer our strong endorsement for his election, acknowledging that he is the Al Gore of the campaign. The man is not built to campaign but he proves over and again that he can effectively govern. It says everything about him and his role on this challenging board over two years that every incumbent is supporting him. He is necessary glue. Steady. Well studied. Without ego. 

Cory Wesley will bring a pragmatic approach to issues facing the village, from property taxes to equity. We applaud his direct admonition that all taxing bodies must exclude new property tax revenues from new construction — read high-rises — from levy requests. This is the only way to make these buildings accomplish the goal of mitigating taxes for everyone else. A software consultant and entrepreneur, Wesley has good ideas on how to use added technology to streamline local government and increase transparency.

A good word for every candidate we have not chosen:

Bridgett Baron is an invaluable asset to everyone who cares about Oak Park government. Her steady presence, detailed research, fair-minded presentation have often offered clarity and direction.

Graham Brisben comes to a village government campaign after a term on the District 97 school board. That experience is both of value and baggage in a town where schools have driven property taxes. Brisben is smart, grasps the complexity that is inevitable in Oak Park and needs a role to play in the future.

Thomas Gary has strong experience in government both elected and on staff. This gives him many insights worth hearing. His nonprofit work and active connection to work in Austin make him a special voice.

Christian Harris is a young entrepreneur with a strong network in the business community. He is currently on the elected library board and we look forward to watching him grow in that important role.

Joshua Klayman is both a candidate and a founder of VOICE, what could be a nascent political organization in Oak Park. We look forward to the role he and that group might play going forward.

Tim Thomas would add multiple perspectives to the village board with his background in union activism, as a renter in Oak Park, and as a member of the LGBTQ community. He offers a strong and passionate voice.

James Thompson is a worthy candidate in a standout field. He is a member of the village's Transportation Commission and we hope he will stay involved there as he has come to see the connection between parking limits and fines and its unequal impact on renters, particularly those of limited means and often people of color.

Arti Walker-Peddakotla is the most interesting candidate in this race. With a strong progressive voice, she challenges Oak Park's comfort level which cannot happen too often. She talks about race and economic class with smarts and passion. We will hear much more from her. 

Reader Comments

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Bruce Kline  

Posted: March 23rd, 2019 1:29 AM

You have a short memory, Mr. Stringham. A successful village has to work for both cars and people - not either or. By your logic the Oak Park Mall would have been the ultimate solution to urban bliss: hey Mom look no cars - just people. Well guess what NO people either. And after wasting millions of dollars on this brilliant urban strategy the Mall was deMalled for another few mil and cars were reintroduced. Be careful what you wish for. You're liable to get it.

Noel Stringham from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2019 12:42 AM

I am absolutely for road diet! The awesome thing about living in central Oak Park is you do not need to own a car. People in other suburbs can spend all your money on serpentine belts and gas while spending their lives stuck on 290 listening to conservative talk radio. We can walk to everything and actually be healthy. We can either build our village to work for cars or for people. Personally I like people more than machines. Ask yourselves does Madison look better in Oak Park or in Forest Park? What's the difference? Pedestrian instead of auto traffic.

Marc Martinez from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 3:07 PM

Carl - the Village services do not increase on a per-resident basis. The Village provides infrastructure, fire and police. None of these should increase significantly due to the new buildings. Also the village budget is 46% pension and debt payments. We need trustees that are looking for efficiency - not new ways to spend. The new housing should absolutely reduce the per-residence tax rate. And the bigger dent put in the pension and debt the better the future reductions.

Michael O'Malley  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 11:28 AM

Dave I think the question should be how many informed residents think the road diet will work. Anyone who read the KLOA report knows that the road diet will be a disaster. Not only will it displace thousands of vehicles into the neighborhoods it will also seriously degrade all roads that go through the Madison intersections: Ridgeland, Oak Park, East, Austin and Harlem to start. The misrepresentations, lies and glossing over of the facts was shameful and probably the worst breach of public trust I've seen in this village.

Carl Nyberg from Chicago  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 10:57 AM

Can the Wednesday Journal editorial board explain how Cory Wesley's idea on new tax revenue isn't just "do more with less"? New high rises (specifically mentioned in the editorial) are going to be built. People are going to live there. They are going to pay taxes. Does WJ or Wesley have a theory as to how Oak Park taxing bodies are going to exclude these people from receiving services? Even if it was possible to take tax revenue from new residents to lower taxes for existing residents by denying the new residents services... even if possible, it isn't moral and it's not legal. Wishful thinking isn't a substitute for good policy.

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 9:44 AM

I'd be interested to know how many residents of OP are in favor of the Madison "road diet" project. I am not. Sorry, but the OP side of Madison will never be a "destination" for people to want to come and shop. It will take a generation or longer to make people want to stop, much less fill the empty storefronts. Anyone else care to chime in?

Lizbeth Lemke from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 11:53 PM

I completely agree with Neal Buer. When your local paper endorses the man who voted to send hundreds of additional vehicles down the street in front of your house each day, a vote another trustee referred to as "unethical" because it creates the same problems on your street that it's supposed to alleviate on the more favored street (on which Lexington Homes just happens to be building an expensive new development), it doesn't generate any positive feelings about your local government and media. It makes no sense for anyone on Washington or Jackson, or anyone who likes to think their local government won't just blithely step all over them, to vote for Taglia.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 9:32 PM

This article says the following about Bridgett Baron, "Bridgett Baron is an invaluable asset to everyone who cares about Oak Park government. Her steady presence, detailed research, fair-minded presentation have often offered clarity and direction." This sounds like an endorsement to me. Bridgett Baron and Cory Wesley have my vote.

George Smith  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 8:19 AM

Vote for Taglia is a vote for more of the same. No thanks. Wesley and Baron. Send a message by only picking two.

Edwin Haag  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 11:09 PM

Well said Mimi.

Mimi Jordan from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 10:46 PM

The immutable fact of Village governance is that there is miniscule room for discretionary spending. Labor contracts, pension funding, and bond debt incurred by previous boards make up the vast majority of the Village budget. Those of us interested in influencing the board on particular issues need to recognize this. Candidates understandably are passionate about certain issues. If elected, they will find their hands tied in trying to deliver on their campaign promises. What we need are sober-minded trustees with open minds, and a willingness to learn about how to govern. As responsible citizens, we have to be willing to do the hard work of not just voting at election time, not just complaining about what the people who represent us for little or no pay do or do not do, but also doing the yeoman's work of making our interests and needs clear to staff and board throughout the year. Year in and year out. And giving them time and space to do the best they can for us. Again, for little or no pay.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 9:19 PM

Baron and Wesley. Buchanan thinks the most important problem facing the village is global warming. Taglia voted for the 'road diet' that will dump traffic on Jackson and Washington. Enough said.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 6:59 PM

Cory and Bridgett; end of story.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 6:50 PM

How do you construe calling someone interesting as a blatant disregard for their skin color or genitalia? Stop supporting candidates because of their gender and or ethnicity. You are no better than the people I'm sure you criticize. You should be pointing out her intelligence and competency as a candidate instead. As a woman of color, I wish that was written about me. I don't find it degrading in the least.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 6:43 PM

Cynthia. Please explain how referring someone as ":interesting" disregards one's ethnicity or gender. I'm a woman of color and frankly, I'm more concerned about the competency of the candidates than their skin color or genitalia. Stop voting for people because of the color of their skin. You are no better than the people you probably criticize. Your comparison to a child auditioning for a play is extremely inaccurate. Your take on the entire paragraph is way off base.

Cynthia Martz from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 6:19 PM

I'm sorry, but did you seriously just write that Arti Walker-Peddakotla is "the most interesting candidate" ? I have never seen such blanant disregard for a woman of color running for office- oh wait, yes I have! It is strange how such a progressive village needs to point out that a candidate has a "progressive voice". What exactly does it mean that she she challenged "Oak Park's comfort level which cannot happen too often" even mean? She isn't a child auditioning for a school play- I've never read a more degrading end to a candidate review. I found myself cringing through this entire paragraph. Honestly, this was probably one of the most unneeded statements ever written.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 6:15 PM

In following online discussions about development, I have found Wesley and Kayman very uninformed. I would like to know more about the other candidates views on what is going on with regard to the current high-rise and other development and frequent use of 'special use' permits. We know Trustee Taglia's position because he has been a Trustee and voted for them while they were approved and built. We need to know how far this arbitrary high-rise push is going. The Journal may get to interview the candidates but I would rather make up my mind for myself and some of the comments here will likely help decide.

Dave Miller  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 5:58 PM

I will be voting for Wesley and Baron, and nobody else for trustee in order to increase their chances of being elected. I see these two as the only candidates who recognize the immediate importance of reigning in our runaway property taxes .

Leslie Sutphen  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 5:14 PM

I don't often agree with Wednesday Journal's endorsements, but I am delighted with the endorsement of a truly high quality candidate - Corey Wesley. I am a little disappointed that you didn't also endorse Bridgett Baron because she is very conversant on all the details of what is before the Village Board. Susan Buchanan is a passionate advocate for equity, but she has not really been actively involved in the issues before the Trustees.

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