Trustee Ben Sells will top a slate of candidates endorsed by the Riverside Community Caucus and running under the banner, “Riverside 2013,” in next April’s election, which will determine the village’s next president and three trustees on the village board.
Sells, who was elected to his second term as a trustee in 2011, is the slate’s candidate for village president. He will be joined by trustee candidates Patricia Julian Collins, Ellen Hamilton and Doug Pollock.
“We’re trying to build consensus, cooperation and outreach,” said Sells in an interview on Monday. “That’s been missing the last four years.
“I really feel like the last four years, despite lip service, has been a very secretive form of local government. Things are crafted behind closed doors by a select few and then pushed out.”
Sells was referring to the current majority on the board of trustees, President Michael Gorman and trustees James Reynolds, Lonnie Sacchi and Mark Shevitz, all elected in 2009 as a slate called the “Riverside Community Alliance.”
“More than anything, it’s the style of leadership,” said Sells. “Are you going to be inclusive, trying to build consensus, or exclusive and use a voting majority to get your way? Local government should be more community-based.”
Sells and the RCA board members have butted heads in recent years over budgeting, the reporting of village finances and, in particular, a move by Gorman and Sacchi in 2010 to dissolve the Riverside Parks and Recreation Board and replace it with a strictly advisory commission.
Sells called the struggle over the future of the recreation board “the most glaring example” of what he believes is the board majority’s exclusive style of governance.
All of the RCA candidates elected in 2009 are up for re-election in 2013. The party has made no announcement regarding a slate.
Riverside Community Caucus President Jennifer White said that while the group had a list of about 50 potential candidates, it was difficult to convince people to run for office. Four years ago, the campaign was bruising and the prospect of a partisan political campaign was not appealing.
“These people were not pre-determined,” said White. “They’re not political. [Campaigning] is extremely time consuming and difficult for the candidates.”
In addition to serving as a village trustee, Sells was a founding member of the Riverside Friends of the Fourth, a volunteer group that raises funds to help host the July 3rd and 4th celebration each year. He also helped spearhead the Riverside Springs Ahead workday to help clean up the central business district and prepare planting beds there each year.
Pollock is one of two trustee candidates with experience in municipal government. A former member of the Riverside Plan Commission and the ad hoc Long-Term Finance Committee, Pollock works as the director of community development for the village of Burr Ridge and holds a master’s degree in city planning.
Hamilton also has experience working in municipal government as a former community development director for downstate Danville. More recently, she is involved in real estate management and development and from 1995 to 2011 was director of real estate for the University of Illinois Chicago.
The 27-year resident of Riverside is also an elder, trustee and deacon at Riverside Presbyterian Church
Julian Collins has volunteered at both Blythe Park School and for PeopleCare, which serves elderly residents in Riverside and surrounding villages. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Illinois State University and is the controller at a Chicago-based law firm that specializes in health care law. She previously was director of compensation and benefits at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago.
According to Sells, the slate won’t have a specific platform. While they are running as a party, they are independent, he said.
“What we are all emphasizing is we’re going to be independent in terms of our representation,” said Sells. “We don’t have agenda items we’re going to sign onto.”
This article has been changed to correct the spelling of Doug Pollock’s name and the name of the university from which Patricia Julian Collins received her M.B.A.