Worth Trustee Mary Werner gets a hug from fellow village Trustee Colleen McElroy on election night at The Chieftan Bar and Restaurant. Werner defeated incumbent Mayor Randy Keller and will be the village
By Laura Bollin
For the third time since the start of the 21st century, a new mayor has been elected in Worth.
Mary Werner, who has yet to complete her first four-year term as a village trustee, defeated incumbent Mayor Randy Keller, who was running for his second term as the village’s highest elected officer. Unofficial results on the Cook County clerk’s website showed Werner received 928 votes (54 percent) to Keller’s 784 votes (46 percent) with seven of seven precincts reporting.
Voter turnout in Worth was 26.2 percent, according to the clerk’s website.
“I can’t even think right now, I probably haven’t slept in a week,” Werner said.
The mayor-elect thanked her supporters at The Chieftain Pub and Restaurant in Worth.
“This was a team effort,” she said. “Hundreds of people helped. I’m grateful the residents believe they are putting the village in good hands.”
Werner plans to hold the swearing-in of herself and her fellow Village Board members at the Terrace Centre or Worth Junior High in May. She will be the village's first female mayor, and the fourth mayor since the turn of the century, following Jim Bilder, Ed Guzdziol and Keller.
Incumbent Trustees Colleen McElroy and Rich Dziedzic were each elected to a second term. Political newcomer Tedd Muersch, Jr. was elected to his first term, while incumbent Trustee Jim Serpico finished out of the running.
With all seven precincts reporting, McElroy was the leading vote-getter among trustee candidates with 1,140 votes (28 percent), followed by Muersch with 1,033 votes (25.4 percent) and Dziedzic with 1,011 votes (24.9 percent. Serpico received 880 votes (22 percent).
McElroy echoed Werner’s sentiments thanking her supporters.
“I’m glad and extremely thankful,” McElroy said. “I’m really humbled. It’s a very mindboggling experience to go through something like this. These are the kind of moments that make us the Friendly Village. We are going to do a lot of good things in this village over the next four years.”
Muersch, 29, was running for elected office for the first time.
“I’m super excited,” Muersch said on election night. “Finally, seven months of hard work has paid off. The Worth residents have spoken. They are looking for change, and I am looking forward to working with them.”
Serpico said he would congratulate the other trustees.
“That’s the voting process and that’s the way it works,” Serpico said. “That’s the will of the people.”
Oak Lawn voters on Tuesday elected the first female mayor in the village’s history, choosing challenger Sandra Bury over incumbent Dave Heilmann as their next chief elected officer.
Bury garnered 5,338 votes (53 percent) to Heilmann’s 4,671 votes (47 percent) with 39 of 41 precincts reporting, according to the Cook County clerk’s unofficial results. Voter turnout for the mayoral race was 28.1 percent, according to the county clerk’s website.
Bury mounted what was not a particularly strong campaign and was unimpressive during a debate against an equally pedestrian Heilmann last week, but rallied enough support to oust a man who has fallen out of favor with former members of his political party and, evidently, the community at-large.
“Wow, I am just so thrilled,” Bury said. “The people have spoken. It’s time to go to work and we have a lot to do. I can hardly wait. It is such a great honor. I’m ready to go to work.”
Tim Desmond topped sitting Trustee Cynthia Trautsch in District 1, Alex Olejniczak won in District 2 and Mike Carberry came out ahead in District 6, respectively. Former Oak Lawn police officer Terry Vorderer avenged a 2009 loss to Tom Duhig by trumping the incumbent trustee in a three-person race in District 4.
Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, who ran as an independent, defeated challenger Melissa Moran, a member of Heilmann’s Independence Party ticket. Quinlan was reelected to her third term, receiving 6,635 votes (67 percent) to Moran’s 3,322 votes (33 percent) with 39 out of 41 precincts reporting.
Olejniczak was the only incumbent voting member of the Oak Lawn Village Board to retain his seat, defeating Mayor’s Independence Party candidate Julie Misner 827 votes (63 percent) to 459 votes (35.6 percent) with five of six precincts reporting, according to the clerk’s unofficial results. Voter turnout in District 2 was 21.6 percent.
“It is very humbling,” said Olejniczak, who four and eight years ago ran with Heilmann. “I am honored to be in their service again. I want to continue on in the things the residents have told me they want done in the village. We have our first female mayor, and I am honored to be a trustee for her.”
Desmond received 708 votes (63 percent) to Trautsch’s 422 votes (37 percent) with seven of eight precinct reporting in District 2, which saw voter turnout of 17.5 percent.
“It is what it is,” Trautsch said. “I wish him the best of luck and [voters] get what they wanted. They voted for change, and that is what they get.”
Vorderer received 785 votes (47 percent) to Tim Reilly’s 460 votes (28 percent) and Duhig’s Duhig’s 411 votes (25 percent) with all seven precincts reporting in District 4, where voter turnout was 14.2 percent. Reilly ran on the Independence Part ticket and Duhig ran as an independent.
Carberry received 921 votes (42 percent), topping two other candidates in District 6. Mayor’s Independence Party candidate Carol Sheahan received 663 votes (30 percent) and independent Joe Sorrentino received 622 votes (28 percent).Sorrentino is president of the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 board of education.
Leah McLaughlin (left), 6, of Hickory Hills, and Ava McGuire, 7, of Palos Hills, open the plastic eggs they collected during the annual village of Worth-Worth Park District egg hunt at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave.
Zachary Johnson (center), 3, of Chicago, and Sammy Steen (right), 4, of Oak Lawn, make a break for Easter eggs during Oak Lawn’s annual hunt on the Village Green, held last Saturday in the downtown park across Raymond Avenue from Village Hall. The mad rush was over in mere seconds as dozens of youths plucked the Green clean of treat-filled plastic eggs.
Seats are up for election in three of the four aldermanic wards in Hickory Hills.
Appointed alderman Brian Waight is running against Stephen Novak in the 1st Ward, and incumbent Alderman Joseph Stachnik is running against challenger John Corasis in the 4th Ward. Alderman Tom McAvoy (3rd Ward) is not running for reelection, and will be replaced next month by the winner of the race between Francine Schafer and Brian Fonte.
Brian Waight, 48, was appointed to the city council in February 2012 to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of John Moirano, who was appointed city building commissioner. Waight serves as the liaison to the City Council’s laws and ordinance committee. He graduated from Evergreen Park High School and is a coffee salesman for Papa Nicholas Coffee.
“I’m the welcome wagon to the city for the business owners, and I help them out in any way I can,” Waight said. “I will make a good alderman because I handle all of the citizens’ complaints or issues in a prompt and timely fashion.”
Waight’s challenger is Stephen Novak, 64, an electrical engineer with J&L Electronics. He owns a bachelor’s degree in engineering from DeVry Institute of Technology. He designs and installs 911 dispatch centers for police and fire departments. He has no prior government experience and is running for the first time. He is running because he did not want to see Waight run unopposed, and has public safety knowledge that would be beneficial to the community, he said.
“I feel that people should have some kind of competition when they run,” Novak said. “I’ll make a good alderman because I work with many of the local area police and fire departments including the Hickory Hills Police Department, and I am aware of grants that we may be able to get for the town that I don’t see happening right now.”
The role of the City Council is to approve ordinances and try and keep the city safe, Novak said.
“People are not aware of some of the ordinances in town,” Novak said. “For example, tow trucks are parked in the city, and there is an ordinance that says that is not allowed.”
Novak is also concerned about safety issues in Hickory Hills. There is a small park at 94th Street and 78th Avenue, and it gets a lot of heavy traffic during rush hour, Novak said.
“People are concerned because cars are flying up and down the streets, and there are a lot of kids there,” Novak said. “I see cars going down the street at 40 miles per hour and very seldom see people getting tickets.”
Francine Schafer, 63, owns bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Indiana University. She is a retired teacher and has taught in the Chicago Public School system and Indian Springs School District 109, which serves part of the 3rd Ward. She is running because she wants to give back to the community, and believes her experience as a teacher will help her on the board. She claims to be “a good problem solver and a good communicator.”
Brian Fonte, 27, owns a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Illinois State University. He works as a project manager for F.E. Moran. He has no previous government experience, and is running to help out the community, he said.
“I grew up here, I have a vested interest in the community and want to see it do well,” Fonte said. “If I become alderman, I will work with the city council to make Hickory Hills a place people would want to call home.”
Fonte wants to maintain taxes, manage the city’s funds and support senior citizens.
“I want the owners to keep up their properties, and I don’t want any of the properties to go down,” Fonte said. “I want to make sure people maintain their buildings. I don’t want any of the buildings to start looking like slumville. Right now, no area of town looks like that.”
Fonte wants the city to keep taxes where they are and use sales tax revenue for bills the city has to pay, he said.
“We should use sales tax instead of taking it out on the citizens’ property taxes,” Fonte said.
Fonte said he will bring a fresh perspective to the city council.
“I will be the youngest one there,” Fonte said. “I want to assure 3rd Ward residents that they will have a voice in the community.”
Incumbent 4th Ward alderman Joseph Stachnik, 43, has served on the city council since 2001. He is running for his fourth term. He owns bachelor’s degrees in commerce and accountancy in finance from DePaul University, a master’s in business administration from Loyola University Chicago Quinlan Graduate School of Business and a master’s of laws in taxation and a juris doctorate from Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law. Stachnik works as a senior manager for a Big 4 accounting firm and as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business.
Stachnik said he wants to see the city move in a positive direction, and wants to continue to attract viable businesses to town. He wants to make sure Hickory Hills stays a business-friendly community.
“We are business friendly by expediting permits and expediting business licenses and construction permits,” Stachnik said.
John Corasis, 47, is a senior systems engineer with Allscripts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from DeVry Institute of Technology. He has no prior government experience and is running for the first time.
“I would like to see Hickory Hills be a desirable place to live for generations to come,” Corasis said. “When I was talking to residents, they felt little things would keep the appeal, like keeping garbage cans not visible from the street. I want to bring residents’ concerns to City Hall and make a difference.”
Corasis believes he will make a good alderman because he will listen to people’s concerns.
Groups led by incumbent mayor and his challenger will grapple for control of Village Board
By Laura Bollin
The election ballot in Oak Lawn will be full next Tuesday with 10 candidates seeking four trustee seats up for election on the Village Board.
Oak Lawn voters will on April 9 select their choices for trustee in four representative districts, including District 1, which is typically only voted on during even-numbered years. The seat is up for election because Trustee Cynthia Trautsch was appointed to fill an open seat less than two years ago following the resignation of Jerry Hurckes.
A full slate of candidates headed by incumbent Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann is opposed by a contingent led by mayoral challenger Sandra Bury, and the results of the election will have an influence on the Village Board’s power balance. Heilmann is politically aligned with Trustees Bob Streit (District 3) and Carol Quinlan (District 5), neither of who are up for re-election, as well as trustee candidates Trautsch, Julie Misner, Tim Reilly and Carol Sheahan; while Bury is running with incumbent Trustees Alex Oleniczak (District 2) and Tom Duhig (District 4), and first-time trustee candidates Tim Desmond and Michael Carberry.
Olejniczak and Duhig along with outgoing Trustee Tom Phelan and village Clerk Jane Quinlan are former members of Heilmann’s party who split from the mayor shortly after the spring 2009 election amidst questions about legal bills and the hiring of a new village attorney, among other issues. Quinlan is running for re-election to the clerk’s post as an independent.
Two independent trustee candidates have also thrown themselves into the fray: Terry Vorderer, a former Oak Lawn police officer and current member of the Oak Lawn Park Board, and Joseph Sorrentino, president of the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 board of education.
Trautsch is running for election for the first time. She was appointed in August 2011 after Hurckes resigned. Trautsch is running as a member of the Mayor’s Independence Party against Oak Lawn First Party candidate Timothy Desmond.
Trautsch, 55, is a lifelong resident of Oak Lawn. She owns a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Saint Xavier University and works as a sales tax accountant for the California Board of Equalization. Trautsch serves on the Village Board’s public works committee and as the board’s police department liaison.
“I’m running because my constituents said I was doing a good job,” Trautsch said. “I’m trying to do what is best for the village of Oak Lawn. I am not working with an adversarial board, I am working with the village of Oak Lawn. I want to know what the village needs and how we are going to get it. I want to make Oak Lawn prosperous. I don’t want my own little corner of the world, I just want to be in Oak Lawn.”
The biggest issue for Trautsch is the village’s infrastructure.
“We need to get our infrastructure taken care of, and get funding for to keep the streets moving along,” Trautsch said. “The district’s streets are bad, and need help. We have to look at all six districts, and get funding every year so we can do the streets. It sounds stupid, but if you have streets that crack, now you have a community in disarray. Why do you want to live in a community where the streets have potholes? If people don’t live here, we don’t have businesses. It is a circle.”
Bringing development into the village is something else Trautsch wants to work on if she is elected to the village board.
“We have the Mariano’s [grocery store to be built at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue], and I want to work on bringing in businesses that generate sales tax into the village, so we do not constantly have to raise the sales tax,” Trautsch said. “That will probably never happen, but it is a goal. In order to do that, we need good infrastructure.”
Trautsch envisions a village with a lot of different businesses to bring people into the village.
“We need a good mix of things,” Trautsch said. “There are a lot of places that have one dollar store at the end of town, but we have five or six. We have TGI Friday’s, but we need a couple higher end restaurants to bring in more people.”
Desmond, 47, has lived in Oak Lawn for 27 years. A native of County Cork, Ireland, he moved to the United States in 1986. He is the owner of Jack Desmond’s Irish Pub in Chicago Ridge and a stationary engineer with Local 399, and is working toward a facilities degree at Triton College.
As a business owner, Desmond says he has ideas to bring business development to Oak Lawn.
“One of the things I want to do is introduce a program where we can offer incentives to businesses that want to move here and existing businesses, so they will hire Oak Lawn High School seniors and graduates and train them in a career.”
Desmond said his idea extends beyond seasonal employment for those in high school.
“I want all businesses to hire our students and train them in a career that will keep them in Oak Lawn,” Desmond said. “Hawkinson Ford can hire students to be mechanics and finance managers for kids that will not be going to college. It would give t hem a start in Oak Lawn.”
Desmond would also like to developers hire Oak Lawn contractors for new construction in the village.
Desmond said raising six children has helped him learn to compromise, a skill that will be valuable on the board.
“The art of politics is compromise, and as a family man, I have had to learn to work with people every day,” Desmond said. “I can bring it real world experience. We have a board right now that spends most of their time bickering back and forth, and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot being achieved.”
The incumbent Olejniczak is running as a member of the Oak Lawn First Party. His challenger, Julie Misner, is running with the Mayor’s Independence Party.
Olejniczak, 47, has lived in Oak Lawn for 40 years. He graduated from Oak Lawn High School. He works as vice president of operations for Dearborn Wholesale Grocers in Chicago. He is a member of the technology and quality control committees, and served on the public works committee and as the police liaison for seven years.
Olejniczak was elected for the first time in 2005 and was re-elected in 2009, both times as a member of Heilmann’s ticket. The two have since parted ways.
“I’m running because we need to continue addressing the issues the residents have brought forward and improve the quality of life in the village of Oak Lawn, whether that is our infrastructure, streets, water, or alleys.”
Safety is a huge issue in Oak Lawn, Olejniczak said.
“People talk about safety in our village, but we have to go from talking to doing, and put together a plan,” Olejniczak said. “We need to get manpower up in the police department, and continue to look to advance the gang and tactical unit. The people that are doing crimes will think twice if they know the police department has the tools and weapons necessary to fight crime.”
Olejniczak said he does not think of Oak Lawn as unsafe, and says there have been gangs in the village since the 1980s.
“My mother, she’s 87, she was mugged coming out of her doctor’s office,” Olejniczak said. “It has nothing to do with the neighborhood we live in. I have been to every neighborhood safety meeting, and I commend the mayor for doing it.”
Unoccupied homes are also a concern because of the issues can arise, like tenants in pre-foreclosure not cutting their grass or not maintaining swimming pools in the backyard. Olejniczak said the village’s responsible landlord tenant ordinance is important, to make sure people who are renting are conducting themselves well.
Olejniczak also wants to improve safety at the village’s schools.
“We need to bring in more advanced cameras, and bring in a centralized monitoring system to protect our schools.”
The role of the board is to be active in the community and listen to the needs of the constituents, Olejniczak said.
“We can’t be financially irresponsible,” Olejniczak said. “I think we as a board have done a good job of towing the line. The proposals being talked about are concerning to me. Using $1 million to update the Village Green, that is financially irresponsible to me. I would like to see that money go to infrastructure projects, like streets and sewers.
Olejniczak also wants to see more development come to the village.
“The Mariano’s development has been a long time coming,” Olejniczak said. “I would love to see some more businesses that the residents have said they want to see. The village deserves to have a Trader Joe’s somewhere in it. I want to see more variety in our restaurants. I do not want to see the continued advancement of gambling parlors. They are using the ability to get a liquor license to have gambling, and then saying they are going to have food. If we ask if the business can exist on food sales alone, and they say they need gambling, I don’t want to see that. I want to see businesses that will bring a positive change to the village.”
Olejniczak said programs he has implemented, like the green team and the senior snow shoveling program show that he has worked hard for the village of Oak Lawn.
“It would be an honor for the residents to vote me in as trustee for another term,” Olejniczak said.
Julie Misner, 46, is the Mayor’s Independence Party candidate for trustee in District 2. Misner is a lifelong resident of Oak Lawn. She attended Oak Lawn Community High School and works as an administrative assistant for an accountant. She has been on the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 board of education for four years, and currently serves as the board secretary.
“I’m running because I think it is important that the village maintains a positive direction and I want to be a part of that,” Misner said. “I want to give back to the community that I have grown up in and raised my family in.”
Misner believes her experience on the board will help her serve the village as a trustee.
“I believe that the four years I have served on the school board have given me a great understanding of how boards work and how boards should work. I have learned a lot, and I think the board can use a little collaboration.”
Misner said the board’s role is to govern, and that she believes the current board may have lost sight of that.
“I don’t know that the role is always clear, and I have a very good understanding of the expectations of a good board member. The expectations are to listen, to understand that it is not about power and ego, it is about the people and what is in the best interest of the community. That has to be your priority.”
One of the important issues in Oak Lawn learning what residents need in the village, Misner said.
“There are residents that may not want to run for office that have great ideas to share,” Misner said. “I want to create a format that allows people to share ideas, whether that is a committee or a roundtable discussion that allows people to bring their input and let people know we value what they say. In my district alone, there are 9,000 residents. One representative cannot see through every resident’s eyes without hearing from them. It is important to hear from your people because people have so much to offer.”
Keeping businesses in town is another important concern.
“People are concerned with the economic state of the village and with foreclosures,” Misner said. “People are concerned with all the business comings and goings.”
Misner believes she would make a good trustee because she will focus on the residents.
“I have always put people ahead of myself,” Misner said. “I work on a board, and we agree to disagree. In the end, we focus on the community and while we might offer our personal opinions, that doesn’t impact our final vote.”
In one of two three-person races, the incumbent Duhig is being challenged by Reilly and Vorderer, the latter who lost to Duhig in the same race in 2009.
Duhig, 69, has lived in Oak Lawn for 40 years. He works as the administrative assistant to the chief of court services for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. He has been a trustee since 2009.
“I am running for reelection because I think I can make a difference,” Duhig said. “My record has shown that. I have pretty much been an independent since I started serving. I bring a lot of common sense to the board. I like to work behind the scenes. I’m quiet, but I like to get things done.”
Duhig said the role of the board is to monitor the issues going on in the village that the board is supposed to vote on.
“You have to do your homework and use common sense,” Duhig said. “You have to listen to the residents and listen to what they are asking. If something is good for my district, it is probably good for all of Oak Lawn; but just because something is good for Oak Lawn doesn’t mean it is good for my district. That is how I have guided my term in office.”
Finances are a big issue in the village, Duhig said.
“One of the big issues is going to be pension funds,” Duhig said. “It if wasn’t for [Trustee] Tom Phelan several years ago, who guided our pension funds to get us out of the stock market, we would be $35 million under water. Our debt is a big issue, but it is no different than the federal or state debt, it is just down to the local level. We have to manage our money wisely.”
Duhig wants to see the village maintain its character while adding new development.
“We have big box and mom and pop stores here,” Duhig said. “It holds the village together. We have a lot of businesses where people do not have to travel far. The key thing to attract new businesses, the problem with that, is that property taxes are so high. If we get a little shoe store or a tailor, everyone wants to be on 95th Street or Cicero, and they just can’t afford it.”
Duhig would like to see the village develop the Southwest Highway corridor, from Southwest Highway between 95th and 99th streets.
“That hospital is not going to stop growing,” Duhig said. “We will get banks and doctor’s offices, which have no retail sales tax. What we need to do is create a corridor on Southwest Highway, and put banks and doctor’s offices there. We want to keep them off of 95th Street so more retail can go there. The hospital has big expansion plans. It will bring in retail stores and restaurants, because people will be going there on their lunch hour. A combination of small and big stores is the key to a healthy community.”
Tim Reilly, 45, has lived in Oak Lawn for 14 years. He owns a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. Xavier University. He owns a steel company. Reilly has been a member of the Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission for five years.
“I am running because I think residents of the fourth district are not having their voices heard,” Reilly said. “I think the current trustee is an absentee trustee, and I want to change that.
“I think I will make a good trustee because I communicate well with people, and I have been involved in different organizations, like St. Germaine Church and Oak Lawn Baseball.”
The board should work to give direction to move the village forward, Reilly said.
“A lot of times, the trustees overstep their bounds,” Reilly said. “We have to get past the infighting and lack of governing. It is all political. I am levelheaded.”
One of the biggest issues in the village is safety, Reilly said.
“There have been safety issues, some at Chuck E. Cheese’s, and then there was an armed robbery a couple of blocks away from my house,” Reilly said. “I think it is always the fringe of Chicago coming to Oak Lawn.”
Vacant businesses are another one of Reilly’s concerns.
“We have to help small businesses move into Oak Lawn by offering incentives,” Reilly said. “If you move in, Oak Lawn will pay a month or two of your rent, something like that, or a reduced cost for garbage disposal, or offer small business loans for people that want to move into Oak Lawn. There are plenty of ways to help. Mariano’s is a great start, but we need to focus on filling up the storefronts that are vacant.”
If he is elected, he will focus on resident input, Reilly said.
“I will communicate with residents via email,” Reilly said. “I will hold quarterly or monthly meetings with residents, and I would be available for people to talk to.”
Terry Vorderer is an independent candidate running for trustee in the fourth district. Vorderer, 66, is a lifelong resident of Oak Lawn. He served as an infantryman in the U.S. Marines. He earned an applied sciences degree from Moraine Valley Community College, took classes at Governors State University, and attended the Northwestern University Staff and Command School. He served as a police officer in Oak Lawn for 34 years, and retired in 2003 as the chief of patrol. He was an Oak Lawn Park District Commissioner for six years, and served as the president and vice president of the park district board.
“Oak Lawn has given me so much over the years,” Vorderer said. “I have the energy, knowledge, and desire to serve the village.”
Vorderer believes the board serves as a liaison between the residents and the village, and sets the direction and financial obligations of the village.
Vorderer believes some of the issues that need to be addressed are political attacks between village trustees, finances, and safety.
“Political attacks are hurting Oak Lawn, and they are unprofessional,” Vorderer said. “I have spent most of my career as a police officer working in adversarial environments. I can work with whoever gets elected to present a more positive image of the village.”
Vorderer wants village trustees to be vigilant of property taxes.
“Many residents are taxed to their maximum,” Vorderer said. “We need to be financially sensitive of that and use the limited dollars we have to deliver services. People are attracted to Oak Lawn because of the good schools and good public services, like the police department.”
Safety is another important issue.
“An armed robbery occurred directly across the street from my house,” Vorderer said. “I believe that the fourth district is uniquely affected by the population that Christ Hospital brings. It is world-class and we are lucky to have it, but I think we do pay an additional price for that. As a result, I think village services, especially the police, need to pay special attention to this district.”
Vorderer wants the village and the hospital to work together on a partnership to address safety and quality of life issues.
“I will not be a part-time politician,” Vorderer said. “I see myself as a public servant. I want to run because I love this place. It’s been my home since the day I was born, and I want to be part of its future.”
Trustee Tom Phelan is not seeking reelection in the race between Sheahan, Carberry and Sorrentino. Carberry did not return several phone calls seeking comment for this story.
Sheahan, 43, is a lifelong resident of Oak Lawn. She owns a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University. She is a stay at home mom who volunteers with the Oak Lawn Green Team, Oak Lawn Baseball, and the Oak Lawn Lions Club.
“I decided to run because I wanted to be involved,” Sheahan said. “I’ve always volunteered or contributed to my neighborhood in Oak Lawn. I have the same concerns other people do. I want to keep my taxes low, keep the streets safe, and do what is best for Oak Lawn.”
One of the biggest issues is business development.
“I want to involve residents’ input regarding stores that are going into their neighborhood,” Sheahan said. “The 111th and Cicero development is practically in my backyard, and I will be doing a lot of shopping there. We also need to address vacancies and draw in small businesses. I want to get ideas from residents on what they would like to see.”
Safety is another concern for Sheahan.
“Having grown up here, I am from the era where you left your back door open, and you can’t do that anymore,” Sheahan said. “I want to keep the neighborhood as safe as I can. I am on the team to kickstart a neighborhood watch program, and have residents be the eyes for the police department. People will walk through neighborhoods and see graffiti, beer cans, or if you see unruly kids in a park and it’s past 11 p.m., let them know it is time to leave.”
Sheahan also wants the board to work together.
“The board working together is what is going to carry the board forward,” Sheahan said. “They are not working together right now. Everything is at a stop point. If you don’t like my idea, it just gets squashed. Everything should be able to have input and work it out amicably.”
Sorrentino, 48, has lived in Oak Lawn for 41 years. He holds a business administration degree from St. Xavier University. He is the owner of the Step Up Logistics company, which sells transportation services. He is the current president of Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 board of education.
“I’m running because I think it is time for a positive change,” Sorrentino said. “I think I have the qualifications. I am a successful business owner. I am the president of the largest school district in Illinois, and I am an independent candidate.”
Sorrentino said the role of the board is to set the vision for the village, support the growth of the village, improve public safety and manage key development projects. The board is also in charge of making sure residents have basic services, like police, fire, and garbage pickup.
He is concerned about the public fighting amongst Village Board members.
“We have to make good decisions for the residents,” Sorrentino said. “The divisiveness is not a way to run a government. People should not be so committed to whatever his or her beliefs are. You have to understand what the residents feel. There are a lot of good, smart people in Oak Lawn and they need to be listened to. Everybody is disgusted by what is going on.”
Sorrentino said residents have gotten more and more concerned about public safety.
“One of the things that is a hot topic is making sure our kids are safe when they are at school,” Sorrentino said. “One person or one district cannot do that. what Oak Lawn has been about since I was a little kid living here is everyone working together. Now, everyone is working to appease a political party.”
Sorrentino said his experience on the school board has given him the tools to restore order on the board and help trustees develop a sense of respect with one another.
“Having the business background that I have, I have experience and am objective,” Sorrentino said. “I can analyze data and make the best decision. My credibility and my sense of ethics is how I grew my business. My business experience will help me ensure financial progress in the village. We have to get back to basics, restore order on the board, and debate issues in a healthy forum.”