By Dermot Connolly
Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury will not run for a third term, she revealed last week, and is backing the candidacy of Trustee Terry Vorderer (4 th ) to succeed her in the April 6, 2021 election.
Bury and Vorderer, a lifelong Oak Lawn resident, were elected to the Village Board at the same time in 2013. Although they did not run on the same slate then, they have formed bonds of friendship during their time in office.
“ Together with our fantastic board and staff, I really feel we have transformed Oak Lawn, and have ensured a fantastic future for our residents and businesses,” said Bury in a video statement available on YouTube.
“ It has been truly an incredibly fulfilling privilege. I am very sad to move on, but I am looking forward to my next adventure with a renewed commitment to community, service and compassion,” said Bury.
Bury is an optometrist with a successful practice in the village.
Describing Vorderer as her “friend and colleague,” she said he has the skills and experience necessary for the job.
“ The next mayor is going to face many challenges. These are challenging times,” said Bury, citing the fact that he is a Vietnam War combat veteran with a 34-year career with the Oak Lawn Police Department.
He also served for six years on the Oak Lawn Park District Board of Commissioners, including a year as president, before being elected to the Village Board.
“ Terry understands what it takes to keep a community safe. His character and his integrity are highly necessary to serve in Oak Lawn’s highest office.
“ Let’s continue the momentum we have started,” said Bury. “Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget these times and this privilege,” she told residents in the video, before urging them once again to “shop Oak Lawn.”
“ I think (running for mayor) has been in my DNA ever since I retired from the police department in 2003,” said Vorderer, 73, on Tuesday.
Aside from a year serving in Vietnam with the 1 st Infantry Division in the late 1960s, he has spent his entire life in Oak Lawn, living in the 4 th District that he serves as trustee.
He had originally planned to run against Bury for in 2017, “but I realized she had the same heart and commitment to this town that I have. As she steps back from her political commitments, this is my opportunity,” he said.
“ There was a period of time in which the politics (on the village board) were less than civil. We were not helped with that, and I figure I can bring to the board the continuing harmony that we began by taking the politics out of it. I have the knowledge and experience to continue to move the village forward,” he said.
Vorderer, who rose through the ranks of the police department to become chief of patrol, said he “got his feet wet in politics” serving on the Oak Lawn Park District Board. While there, he helped start the practice of renovating local parks each year.
“ We added art to the parks too,” he said, crediting his wife, Linda, a retired art teacher, for influencing him in that regard.
While trustee, Vorderer said he is proud of fulfilling his “original commitment to make Advocate Christ Medical Center a partner in the economics of the village.” The hospital in his district at 4440 W. 95 th St. completed an expansion project during his tenure. It is a non-profit so it does not pay property taxes.
“ Soon after I was elected, we were able to negotiate an annual PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) in which they bring millions into the village as a volunteer payment,” he said
“ I also recognize the hospital is a great economic engine for the village. They may not pay taxes but they generate a lot of jobs,” said Vorderer.
Vorderer said he is also proud of being able to negotiate a “peaceful resolution” to chronic problem of disturbances at the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant and entertainment venue that had been located at 4107 W. 95 th St. The company voluntarily closed the establishment a few years ago after being threatened with losing its business license.
The whole property it was located on has since been redeveloped into Oak Lawn Commons, which will include an Amazon grocery store and DuPage Medical Center. Both are due to open next spring now, he said, following delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ That site has already been greatly improved even with just the landscaping. It look like a shopping area in Naples, Fla.,” he said.
Vorderer said he is in the process of putting together a slate to run with, including a village clerk candidate to succeed Jane Quinlan, who also recently announced that she is retiring in 2021 after 16 years in that role. He said the candidate he has in mind to replace him in the 4 th District is a high school math teacher. More official announcements will be coming soon, he said.