By Laura Bollin
The mayor of Evergreen Park will face an election challenger for the first time in his four runs for the village’s highest elected office.
Write-in mayoral candidate Shawn Good, who was booted from the ballot after an electoral board deemed her nominating petitions invalid, is hoping to defeat Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton April 9. Three political allies of Sexton comprised the electoral board that threw out Good’s nominating petitions.
Sexton, 60, has lived in Evergreen Park for 37 years, and is running because he wants to continue the economic development he helped bring to the village, he said. Sexton owns a bachelor’s degree in education from Loyola University Chicago, and has spent 26 years on the Evergreen Park Village Board. He served as a trustee from 1987 to 1996, village clerk from 1996 to 2001, and has been mayor since 2001.
Bringing more commercial development to Evergreen Park is at the top of Sexton’s list of things he wants to accomplish. Big box retailers Meijer and Menards will be opening in a development on the old Evergreen Golf Club property at 91st Street and Western Avenue, and Sexton this week announced a developer’s plan to redevelop The Plaza at 95th and Kedzie.
“The Plaza would be up at the top, and the Webb property [2601 W. 95th St.] is toward the top of the list,” Sexton said. “We changed all four corners at 95th and Kedzie. Twelve years ago, that was all old, dilapidated buildings. We brought in Oberweiss, Jimmy John’s, Culver’s, all things I have been working on over the years that have come to fruition.”
Village officials should always be working on economic development, Sexton said. The mayor has been a staunch advocate of the “Keep the green in Evergreen” campaign, an effort to encourage residents to spend their money in Evergreen Park rather than other places such as Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge.
“We want to encourage people to spend their dollars here so we keep the folks that we have here.” Sexton said.
Sexton hopes voters will consider his experience in municipal government.
“I started out on committees as youth commissioner and a police and fire commission member,” Sexton said. “I’m not just coming along looking to start at the top. I planted a framework and worked hard in this town. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and worked with a lot of people.”
Sexton is excited about the future of Evergreen Park.
“We’ve got a lot to do here,” he said. “We have a great town, and we have a lot to look forward to. We have the park and retail development at 91st Street and Western Avenue with the Menards, Meijer, and Michaels. We have to get the Mariano’s completed [on the old Webb site]. We have got to get The Plaza done – we have to scrap it and start over. That’s three major projects we’re in the midst of working on.”
Sexton, who contracted West Nile Virus last summer and spent nearly six weeks in the hospital, said the commercial development in town has helped him regain his strength, and keep the commitment to Evergreen Park he has held for more than 37 years.
Good, 44, has lived in Evergreen Park for 40 years, and wants to address the concerns of the citizens in town. Good attended Moraine Valley Community College, and earned her master’s degree in political science and justice studies from Governors State University. Good is running for mayor the good of the community, she said.
“I want to address the concerns of the citizens and business owners,” she said. “I feel dedicated to Evergreen Park and the community. I want to do service here because I live here and am dedicated to public service.”
Good believes the Village Board should be making the best choices for everyone in town, and is concerned about taxes and business development. Evergreen Park has not raised its property tax rate in many years.
“We need to be working together with other communities to attract businesses and get taxes lowered,” Good said. “I’ve seen town change – we have a lot of auto dealerships and a lot of retail services. People are complaining about very high taxes that are just out of control, but they are not getting anywhere with their complaints.”
When talking to business owners, Good said some told her their property taxes are so high they are having a difficult time staying in business.
“I want to meet with local business owners and state representatives and bring it to a forum or committee so we can band together.”
She also wants to create incentives for businesses that have been in Evergreen Park for more than 30 years to encourage them to stay in the village. Good hoped to create a petition that would get the attention of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“If we get enough people to petition or get a group of people to bring it to his attention, I think maybe they have to start investigating and help our community,” Good said. “95th Street is being emptied out very quickly.”