It may be only the beginning of October, but campaign season in Brookfield began last week. Two slates of candidates, one of them formerly tied to the PEP Party, announced they’ll challenge the village’s political powerhouse.
Michael Towner, a former two-term trustee who lost a bid for village president in 2013, is chairman of the newly formed United Residents Party. He will be running for one of the three village trustee seats up for grabs in the April 7, 2015 election.
Joining him on the slate will be another former PEP-Party loyalist, Carla Close Prosen, and his next-door neighbor, James Boyle, also a supporter of PEP in the past.
Meanwhile, three men are circulating petitions under the new Citizens Action Party banner. Mark Rogers, a longtime resident of the village’s south end, is joining forces with retired Brookfield police sergeant John Marino and Daniel Gribben, who ran unsuccessfully for trustee in 2011 and 2013.
The group has not officially filed papers creating a campaign committee with the Illinois State Board of Elections, but plans to do so once they raise $5,000, the amount at which the committee must be registered, Rogers said.
Marino retired after 28 years as a Brookfield police officer in 2008. He’s also a member of the Brookfield Police Pension Board. Gribben is a self-employed trader and risk analyst.
Those two slates will face off against the PEP Party’s candidates, who include incumbents Ryan Evans and Michelle Ryan and David LeClere, who served as a village trustee from 2007-11. Evans is the principal of S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield. Ryan, owns M.D. Ryan Consulting, a company that specializes in transportation planning projects. She was appointed village trustee in 2013 to complete the term of Kit Ketchmark, who was elected president that year.
It’s the first time in more than two decades that three full slates of candidates will face each other in a Brookfield election. According to former trustee and village president Bill Russ, the last time three slates faced off in a Brookfield election was 1987.
The election campaign officially started Sept. 23, the date candidates could start collecting signatures on nominating petitions. Those petitions can be filed with the village clerk’s office between Dec. 15 and 22.
Candidates for both new parties say they’re running, because they believe more voices ought to be represented on the village board, where PEP has held every seat since 2007.
“From what I see happening in this town, it’s time to have a choice, time to alter the landscape,” said Rogers, a regional manager for the investment firm Scarborough Alliance Group. He has lived in Brookfield since 1963.
Russ is assisting the Citizens Action Party in putting together its nominating petitions, a task that tripped up three independent candidates, including Gribben back in 2011. Ironically, Prosen was the person who filed objections to those petition on behalf of the PEP Party.
But Rogers said Russ, who along with Towner lost a bid for village president in 2013, was not involved in writing the party platform. Rogers said he didn’t vote for Russ in 2013, nor did he vote for Towner or the winner of the presidential race, Kit Ketchmark.
“I wrote in myself for president and trustee,” Rogers said. “If I thought Bill or any candidate was worthy of my vote, I’d have voted for them.”
Rogers said he, Marino and Gribben were still working on a party platform.
“At this point there are common elements we all share as needing improvement in town,” said Rogers. “We’ll be developing a complete platform in the very near future.”
Towner split with PEP in 2012 after being turned aside as the party’s candidate for president in 2013 in favor of Ketchmark. But Towner, one of the more vocal members on the board during his time as trustee, expressed frustration with what he saw as PEP’s reactive rather than proactive approach to governing.
“I think we can do a lot better if we start planning and follow up throughout the year,” said Towner. “This is an opportunity for us to see what residents want to do.”
Prosen is the daughter of former Brookfield President Kevin Close, who served in that position from 1989-93. She’s also a member of the Brookfield Beautification Commission. Boyle, who lives next door to Towner, is a semi-retired nursing home administrator.
Ketchmark said the PEP Party’s message to voters during the campaign will emphasize recent gains in economic development and the party’s record of accomplishments during the past decade.
“In general our goal is to continue what we’ve been working on and approaching things from a fiscally responsible manner,” said Ketchmark.