By Laura Bollin
A first-grade teacher from St. Germaine School is challenging the incumbent village clerk in Oak Lawn on next month’s election ballot.
Melissa Moran is running on Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann’s Independent Party ticket against village Clerk Jane Quinlan. The incumbent clerk was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, both times as a member of Heilmann’s political party. Quinlan is running this year as an independent.
Quinlan, 56, is a lifelong resident of Oak Lawn. She earned registered and municipal clerk certifications through the University of Illinois-Springfield., and has been working on earning a master municipal clerk certification since 2006. She is the vice president of the South and West Clerks Association, which includes 75 municipalities.
“I want to continue serving the people of Oak Lawn,” Quinlan said. “It is important for the village to have working relationships with other communities, which I do.”
Quinlan’s eight years as clerk have helped her create bonds with residents, she said.
“It takes years to build up the relationships that I have with residents, you just don’t walk in and know everybody,” Quinlan said. “People get to know you and they trust you.”
Quinlan believes she has made the right decision in running as an independent candidate. She ran in 2005 and 2009 with Heilmann and Trustee Alex Olejniczak. The officials have since gone their separate ways, with Heilmann siding with former adversary Trustee Bob Streit and Trustee Carol Quinlan, and Olejniczak aligned with Trustees Tom Phelan and Tom Duhig.
“I have been working with an adversarial board for years,” Quinlan said. “I can best serve the village as an independent candidate. You can work effectively with an adversarial board, the key is that I work for the full board.”
Quinlan is self-described as a “hands-on” clerk.
“If people have a problem with something, I will stop in on my way to work in the morning,” she said. “If someone calls and tells me there’s a big hole in their street, and they don’t know if it’s their responsibility or on the village property, I’ll take a ride by there. I know what department to call to help. People see me at night, on the weekends. I’m always driving around the village. You have to know your village.”
Moran, 38, earned a bachelor’s degree in history with an education concentration and a master’s degree in elementary education from Saint Xavier University. She has served on the St. Germaine Family Association Board, the St. Germaine Athletic Association Board, the parish transformation committee and the parish fundraising committee. She has lived in Oak Lawn for 14 years.
Moran said she wants to be part of a board that works together.
“I’m running because I think our government can do better than what it is doing right now,” she said. “We need officials that are working together, and when they are not working together, it hinders progress. We don’t get as much accomplished as we should.”
Moran said the organizational skills she has as a teacher will also help her if she is elected as village clerk. She also believes being clerk will be her way of giving back to Oak Lawn.
“I’m used to a changing pace,” Moran said. “I am used to multitasking and dealing with whatever comes my way.”
Safety and crime are some of the big issues in the village, Moran said.
“I am currently working with the mayor to be part of a safety committee to talk to residents to see what our safety issues are, and what we think can be done about them,” she said.
Moran also wants to see more revenue brought into Oak Lawn.
“We are losing shoppers to other areas,” Moran said. “We don’t have enough retail in Oak Lawn. We need to talk about how to bring in clothing retailers and different types of restaurants in Oak Lawn.
“We are a wonderful community next to the city with Beverly to the east of us – how do we pull that traffic into Oak Lawn? Communities around us will turn to us as a place to stop and shop. Let’s attack the areas we are losing out on.”