By Laura Bollin
A longtime Oak Lawn resident and business owner no longer wants to sit back and watch the proceedings at Village Board meetings.
Sandra Bury wants to get involved, so she will challenge incumbent Mayor Dave Heilmann in next spring’s election. Heilmann, who was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, will be running for a third term on the April 9 election ballot.
Bury, an optometrist who owns Complete Vision Care, said she spends all day talking to residents.
“I enjoy people, and I spend every day talking to residents,” Bury said. “I get the sense there is not a connection between what people say and what is going on in the village. The people’s business is a small portion of the meeting, and the bickering is a large part. Oak Lawn deserves better than that.”
Bury, who refused to give her age, has sat on the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors since 1997 and is a former president of the Oak Lawn Rotary.
“There’s a disconnect [between the village and businesses],” Bury said. “It used to be that representatives from the village would attend Chamber meetings. They would get to know the business owners and understand their concerns. I haven’t seen that in years. The mayor comes once a year to give the state of the village address.”
Small business owners in Oak Lawn need to have more communication with village officials, Bury said.
“Businesses are closing up and down the street,” Bury said. “I knew a woman whose business closed not far from Village Hall, and she put a going-out-of-business sign up, and no one from the village even called. That’s not right. If there is no communication, how can they even know what our needs and interests are?”
Bury envisions Oak Lawn as a vibrant village, she said.
“Oak Lawn is a jewel,” Bury said. “The people of Oak Lawn are amazing. The shopping power of Oak Lawn is amazing, but there is so much more we could be doing to take it to the next level. I’d like to see every storefront full, people excited to shop in Oak Lawn, and having everything they need right here. I think more fine dining options and an eclectic grocer are some things residents would really like.”
Bury is excited about her run for mayor.
“I think I am strong enough, and the issues are grating enough,” Bury said. “I know I could do a good job at this point in my life. If you don’t like it, you can’t just whine about it. You have to stand up to it, and that is what I intend to do.”