Vicki Scaman, Oak Park's first term village clerk, will run for village president in April 2021. She has registered her candidacy for the 2021 race. This makes her Oak Park's second elected official to enter the race. Village Trustee Simone Boutet announced her intention late last year.
Scaman confirmed her run but declined an interview request. "I am unable to comment at this time. My desire is to see the village board concentrate on the work they have in front of them."
Boutet filed her own candidacy with the Illinois Board of Elections back in September. On July 6 she confirmed her plans to run have not changed.
"I'm running to change the way our government responds to the citizens and stakeholders," said Boutet.
Boutet believes Oak Park has a "culture of saying no" and that she wants to change that culture to one where the "needs of the community drive our government."
Four other candidates have expressed interest in running or have been rumored to be candidates. Petition filing for the race comes in late 2020.
Bob Tucker, a former two term village trustee, said Monday he has yet to decide whether or not he will run for village president next year.
"I plan to decide by the end of this month, by the end of July," Tucker told Wednesday Journal.
Tucker has been discussing a potential run with people whose opinions he values.
"For the past couple weeks, pretty much every evening, I've sat down with someone in my backyard whose opinions I'm interested in hearing and who are asking me to run," Tucker said.
Deno Andrews, a sitting trustee has long been rumored to be a potential candidate. He said Monday that he has not decided and that the current stresses on village government from COIVD-19 and policing issues. He said it is too early to decide and too early to begin campaigning.
Cate Readling mounted a last-minute write-in campaign for village president in 2017. She may soon enter the 2021 race. She has not formally announced for the race but confirmed she has launched an exploratory committee. She works as the community outreach coordinator for the Park District of Oak Park.
Readling also declined an interview request.
Anan Abu-Taleb, currently in his second term as mayor, said he has not decided whether he might run for an unprecedented third term.
"At this point, I'm not thinking about campaigns; I'm not thinking about who's running and who's not," Abu-Taleb said. "I'm just focused on what the community elected me to do which is taking care of the taxpayers and serving the community."
The COVID-19 pandemic, Abu-Taleb said, has commanded his attention and energy, as well as that of village staff.
"I don't know if people realize how busy we have been to combat this pandemic," Abu-Taleb said. "Everything we've been doing in village hall has been turned upside down."
Abu-Taleb cited COVID-19 related revenue shortfalls, as well as new services the village is providing to help small businesses and improving communication with the public as key focuses.
"And add to that, we have this social uprising," he said. "We have a lot on our plate; staff has been extremely busy, and I've been just trying to take care of what I was elected to do."
Andrews expressed similar sentiments to Abu-Taleb's regarding the current state of both Oak Park and the country, saying, "We're in a very stressful time with COVID, with policing."
Andrews said he has not made any decisions regarding a potential run for village president.
"I honestly have given almost zero thought to next year's election," he said. "I think it's just still way too early to be making those decisions and starting the campaign."
If Andrews were to enter the race, he said he would run for the same reason he ran for village trustee: to serve the people of Oak Park.
"I'm just not a fan of people campaigning at the board table, and I certainly don't want to be accused of such if I decide to run," Andrews said.
Andrews said he currently is focused on making good decisions for Oak Park and getting through the COVID-19 crisis.
"I really, really have made no decisions and I have not made any decisions on what I'm going to run for or if I'm going to run at all," Andrews said.
Tucker is chief operating officer of the Chicago Community Loan Fund, which provides financial assistance benefitting low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Chicago.
"I have a full-time job that is all about investing in and helping support disadvantaged communities of color throughout Chicagoland," said Tucker.
As the nation's population calls for racial equity and investment in disenfranchised communities, Tucker said engagement with his non-profit has only grown.
Individuals and organizations are "engaging even more so than they have in the past with my organization and we're very busy," Tucker said. "It's good that we're busy."
Tucker expects his work will continue to be demanding in coming months and is factoring that into his decision regarding the village presidential election.
"I just have to figure out if I want to make that next step and actually run for office."
Boutet has been the most open candidate in the race having declared her interest nine months back.
She discussed her platform for a planned campaign.
"Those needs include moving forward on racial equity, rebounding from the pandemic, adopting progressive budget reform and becoming a fully transparent and inclusive government," said Boutet.
Boutet will campaign on the premise of bringing greater transparency to all aspects of village government, including in the presentation of information on the Oak Park village website and the process by which Oak Park tracks citizen complaints in the police department.
"I've been running on transparency since my first run," Boutet said. "I think it's one of the essences of good government."
So far, Boutet has amassed a "handful" of volunteers and a campaign manager to assist her in her village presidential run.
Boutet noted she is also trying to diversify the village board racially by encouraging Black community members to run for village trustee but that those efforts have been unsuccessful.
"I have been trying to recruit African American candidates to the village board since last year," she said. "Nothing successful."
Boutet said she has also been in discussions with other potential candidates for Oak Park village president but did not reveal any names.
Answer Book 2019
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