A slate of candidates calling themselves The Common Sense Party, which announced its intention to field a slate of candidates via social media on Dec. 13, filed nominating petitions with just an hour to spare on Dec. 19, setting up a competitive race against the PEP Party, which has controlled the Brookfield Village Board since 2005.
At the top of the slate are a pair of law enforcement professionals. The slate’s candidate for president is Roberto Garcia, a veteran Cicero police officer who has run for office five times while a resident of that town between 2002 and 2013. He also owns Ashley’s Wash and Dry, a laundromat at Plainfield Road and 47th Street in Brookfield.
The slate’s candidate for village clerk is Leilani Cappetta, a retired Berwyn police commander who now works part time as a training safety officer for the Morton College Police Department in Cicero.
Trustee candidates include Sherry Lada, whom Garcia said he got to know through the Brookfield VFW Post; Kathleen Hillmann, a fellow parent with a child at Congress Park School; and Edward “E.J.” Frantzen, who is co-owner of Joe’s Saloon on 47th Street in Brookfield.
All of the members of the Common Sense Party slate, except for Cappetta, live in Brookfield south of Ogden Avenue. In a phone interview Monday, Garcia told the Landmark that the late start in getting petition signatures was because a Hollywood resident who was initially part of the slate dropped out for family reasons. Frantzen, whom Garcia said he knew as a customer of the laundromat, replaced that person on the slate.
According to social media posts last week, the slate’s key issues are “the development of the Ogden corridor, 8 corners and the downtown area,” “holding the line on local taxes” and address[ing] the increased level of gang activity in town, specifically around the Ehlert Park area.”
Garcia told the Landmark that he’s talked to people dissatisfied with the way village government treats businesses in the village, something he says he’d like to change.
“I’m hearing stories of how businesses are treated here,” Garcia said. “Instead of rolling out the red carpet, people talk about how people are turned away.”
Brookfield in recent years has focused on economic development, particularly along Ogden Avenue, hiring a director of community and economic development, creating two TIF districts along Ogden Avenue and one at Eight Corners and hiring a firm to market key commercial locations there.
The village also is in the process of updating its zoning code for key commercial areas, including near the Congress Park train station and has just started a new comprehensive planning process.
Garcia also claimed that “safety is becoming an issue here,” citing an apparently gang-involved shooting in 2015 in Ehlert Park and an incident from May 2016 in which police found a gun inside a vehicle seen leaving the scene of a fight at Ehlert Park.
“I heard a lot of the same gripes,” said Garcia, who grew up on Chicago’s Near Northwest Side and whose father, he said, was active in the Near Northwest Civic Committee. “So I challenged them and said, ‘Let’s do something about it.'”
Garcia said he’s been a Cicero police officer since 2000, but started his law enforcement career with the Cook County Sheriff’s Police in 1997.
He made his first bid for office in 2002, when he ran as the Republican candidate in Illinois State Senate District 12 against Martin Sandoval. Despite being a rookie candidate, the state GOP’s senate political committee contributed more than $100,000 to Garcia’s campaign fund. He lost a relatively close race, 51.1 to 48.9 percent.
In 2003, he ran for a seat on the Morton High School District 201 Board of Education, placing second in an 11-candidate field. He served one term on that board, choosing not to run for re-election in 2007.
Instead, in 2006, Garcia ran as a Democrat for state representative in the 24th District in the 2006 primary against Elizabeth Hernandez. He finished a distant third in a three-person primary field, with just 15.7 percent of the vote.
Then in 2009, Garcia set his sights on Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, challenging and losing that election by a 63.9 to 35.1 percent margin. Four years later, in 2013, Garcia was part of a slate put together by former McPier executive Juan Ochoa.
In 2013, Ochoa ran for Cicero town president and Garcia ran for town supervisor. Initially their nominating petitions were challenged and they were knocked off the ballot, but a judge reinstated their names on the ballot. Both lost their respective races.
The PEP Party slate – Kit Ketchmark, president; Brigid Weber, clerk; and Michael Garvey, Nicole Gilhooley and Ed Cote, trustee – announced its slate in October and filed nominating petitions with the clerk’s office on Dec. 12.