The VIP Party, which has controlled the North Riverside Village Board for a generation, has chosen its slate of trustee candidates for the 2019 consolidated election, with just one incumbent choosing to run for another term.
Incumbent Deborah Czajka, who was elected to her first full term in office in 2015 after being appointed to replace her ailing husband, Randall, in May 2013 is running for re-election.
She’ll be joined on the slate by one newcomer and one former village trustee.
Trustee Jason Bianco, who won election to the board as a VIP candidate in 2015 along with Czajka, is not running for re-election. He did not return a call seeking comment prior to the Landmark’s press time.
The other winner in 2015 was H. Bob Demopoulos, who ran a slate of candidates under the name Save Our Firefighters. He has not yet announced whether he is making another run for trustee.
Matthew Decosola, who served on the village board from 2013-17, again seeks to fill one of the three trustee seats up for election next year. The slate is rounded out with Martin DeLeonardis, who is making his first run for elective office on a municipal level.
Czajka, a lifelong resident of North Riverside previously served for 22 years as a member of the Komarek School District 94 school board, and was involved on a municipal level as a volunteer on the Plan Commission and as a member of a couple of ad hoc committees — one created to plan the village’s 75th anniversary celebration and one that worked to have a berm built west of North Riverside Park Mall, to block the view of the shopping center from Lathrop Avenue.
For the past 18 years, Czajka has worked as a paraeducator at Hauser Junior High School in Riverside.
“I love this place,” Czajka said. “I was born and raised here. It’s like my blood is here.”
Czajka said that in the coming four years the village will see continued pressure to balance providing essential services and infrastructure improvements with the growing cost of police and fire pension obligations and the changing face of big-box retailing, which has long provided essential sale tax revenue to the village.
“I think all municipalities are not immune to the financial challenges,” Czajka said. “In North Riverside, we’re heavily dependent on sales taxes, so we have to be more frugal.”
Prior to being elected to one term as a village trustee in 2013, Decosola was a Riverside Township trustee from 2007-13.
Decosola, 47, is a former chairman of the North Riverside Plan Commission. A graduate of St. Joseph High School in Westchester, he has been an employee of the River Forest Department of Public Works for the past 14 years.
He said he missed not being on the board for the past two years, though he declined to say why he didn’t run for re-election in 2017, calling it a “private matter.”
Like Czajka, he said keeping the village economically stable, with a balanced budget while providing good services to residents would be the main challenge during the next four years.
DeLeonardis, a 29-year resident of the village, has previously served as an elected official as a four-year member of the Komarek School District 94 Board of Education. He also served on the village’s E911 Board for five years, prior to the dissolution of the group to make way for West Central Consolidated Communication (WC3). He has also served on the board of North Riverside Little League.
A Riverside native and graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School and Triton College, DeLeonardis works as director of customer service for Solacom Technologies, a Westchester-based firm that specializes in public safety and 911 communications technology.