The PEP Party, which has held a stranglehold on Brookfield municipal government since 2005, announced its slate of three candidates who will be running for village trustee in the April 2019 Consolidated Election at a fundraiser Oct. 29 at the Brookfield Ale House.
Running for the three open seats are incumbent David LeClere and two people who are making their first attempts at winning municipal offices, Katie Kaluzny and Brian Conroy.
Village President Kit Ketchmark, a member of the PEP Party since 2004 who was elected to his second term in that position in 2017, introduced the trio at the campaign fundraiser/kickoff event.
“It’s an exciting and proud time for the village,” said Ketchmark referencing the 125th anniversary of Brookfield’s incorporation. “Little by little, we are bringing more shine to that diamond in the rough we keep hearing about.”
The event also served as a farewell of sorts to a pair of incumbent PEP trustees who won’t be returning for another term.
Trustee Ryan Evans will finish out his second consecutive term as a trustee in 2019, and is prohibited by term limits from running again.
Meanwhile, Trustee Michelle Ryan, who was elected to a full term in 2015 after being appointed two years earlier to fill the vacancy created by the election of Ketchmark as president in 2013, confirmed she won’t run.
Ryan, who has worked as an independent planning consultant since 2008, will begin a new job as project director at Metro Strategies Inc., a women-owned transportation planning, policy and outreach firm with offices in Glen Ellyn and Chicago.
She’ll be working as a consultant to the engineering firm CDM Smith as tollway project manager, working on tollway policy issues such as intelligent transportation systems.
“My decision [not to run] was about doing something else,” said Ryan. “I wanted to refocus on my career, and had to make that decision in order to keep an open mind and open search.”
Ryan had hoped to begin her search for a new job after the New Year, but she’ll jump into her new role on Nov. 15 while serving out the remainder of her term.
“It really was a great period of the history of Brookfield to serve, because it involved so much planning and infrastructure,” said Ryan, pointing to village initiatives such as zoning modernization, the comprehensive plan, the complete streets policy, the Washington-Forest flood-control project and 2016 street referendum.
Prior to her time on the board, Ryan volunteered with the farmers market, helped during the early stages of an effort that eventually brought a bike path to First Avenue and served on the Brookfield Beautification Commission.
“People think you start out as a trustee, but there’s a lot of community involvement that goes on before that,” Ryan said.
LeClere, who was elected in 2015, is finishing out his second term as a village trustee, having also served in that capacity from 2007-11. He is also a longtime past member and chairman of the Brookfield Playgrounds and Recreation Commission and Special Events Commission.
“I still think I have a lot to give,” said LeClere, who said he’s looking forward to working with new Village Manager Timothy Wiberg, who was hired last month.
“I think when we give Tim time to get his feet wet and get personnel organized … I think he’ll help bring a little more economic development vision and planning down the road.”
Conroy is new to municipal government, but he has spent the past five-plus years as a member of the Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 Board of Education, where he is the chairman of the buildings and grounds committee at a time when that school district is undertaking a $30 million expansion and renovation of its two campuses.
He said a run for village government wasn’t on his radar until he was approached by PEP officials about being slated for trustee in 2019. Though reluctant to be considered a “politician in Cook County,” Conroy said he views PEP members as “chronic volunteers” interested in community service.
“It’s not about politics. It’s about stewardship,” said Conroy. “If there’s a political aspect to this, I haven’t seen it.”
Conroy said he’s also running to serve as a foil to those who might be running with a personal agenda in mind.
“You don’t want that either,” he said. “I’ll never act in my own self-interest, only in the interest of the community.”
A 5-year resident of Brookfield, Kaluzny is making her first bid in government as an elected official, but she has experienced working in a municipality for the past two-plus years as a member of the Brookfield Conservation Commission, an advisory group to the village board.
In addition, Kaluzny was a member of the Brookfield Comprehensive Plan steering committee and got started with her involvement in the community as a co-founder of Go Green Brookfield, which serves as a resource for sustainable practices residents can implement.
With a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in environmental policy and a master’s degree in public service from DePaul University, Kaluzny works for the Illinois Green Alliance, which is the state’s affiliate of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Part of her job is to manage volunteers and get people involved in their communities.
“I thought I’d better walk the talk,” Kaluzny said.
With the village folding sustainability goals into its comprehensive plan, Kaluzny said she believes it’s important to have an advocate for implementing those goals on the village board.
“The new comprehensive plan talks about green, sustainable planning, and it’d be great to have that voice in a conversation like this,” Kaluzny said.
Candidates have until mid-December to collect signatures on their nominating petitions. The filing period is Dec. 10-17.