The membership of the Riverside Community Caucus will meet early next month to vote to decide which three of seven candidates – six men and two women — they will endorse to run for village trustee in 2021.
Last week, the caucus posted the names and photos of the prospective trustee candidates, along with questionnaires completed by each one. Question-and-answer videos of each candidate were added to the website Oct. 20. The caucus is considering just one person for village president, former two-term trustee Joseph Ballerine, who previously confirmed his candidacy to the Landmark in August.
Among those seeking the caucus endorsement for trustee are a pair of incumbents, one former and three current attorneys, past and present members of Riverside advisory commissions and community volunteers.
The incumbents running for re-election who are seeking the caucus’ endorsement include Doug Pollock, who is seeking a third consecutive term on the village board, and Wendell Jisa, who is finishing up his first term as a trustee.
They are joined by John Carroll, a former Cook County State’s Attorney prosecutor who now serves as deputy chief of staff for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul; Megan Claucherty, assistant general counsel at Harris Associates, a Chicago-based investment company; Joel Marhoul, a civil engineer at T.Y. Lin International and current member of both the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education and the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission; Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga, former attorney and present board chair of the regional tourism bureau Visit Oak Park and member of the Riverside Preservation Commission; and Adrian Mendoza, a partner with the Oak Brook-based law firm Lillig and Thorsness, former member of the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission and current board member of the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce.
“The quality of this array of potential candidates is truly impressive,” said Kevin Smith, president of the Riverside Community Caucus. “The caucus and the residents of Riverside are fortunate that so many fine prospects have stepped forward. It is a testament to the diligent work of our recruiting committee and its chair, Kimber Coombes, that we will have quite a challenge in selecting just three individuals to endorse for the vacancies to be filled next year.”
John McGlennon, a senior design manager for an engineering firm and a member of the Riverside Parks and Recreation Board, initially was announced as one of the trustee candidates but has withdrawn his name from consideration, Smith said on Oct. 19.
The caucus had expected to introduce the prospective candidates at a community forum, but the organization decided to cancel the event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The full membership of the caucus will meet soon to formally endorse candidates.
While the candidates seeking caucus endorsement represent a variety of backgrounds, there is a thread running through almost all of their questionnaires, which can be read at riversidecommunitycaucus.org.
Asked what they believe to be the greatest challenge facing Riverside, all but one candidate, in one form or another, mentioned village’s financial resources and the impact that has on infrastructure planning, pension obligations and economic development.
Carroll was the only candidate who did not mention finances as Riverside greatest challenge. Instead, he pointed to the village’s demographics, saying “Riverside lacks the full spectrum of diversity” found in other places in the city and suburbs and that he looked forward to community discussions on how to address the issue.
Once the caucus endorses candidates it will be up to them as to whether they want to form a slate, and they’ll be responsible for collecting signatures for their nominating petitions.
Because the caucus was forced to dissolve its political committee in 2019, the organization won’t be involved in formally funding the campaign.
Those not endorsed by the caucus will be free to run as independents or form slates of their own. There may also be others in the community who have not yet announced their intentions to run for trustee or president.
Riverside‘s last contested election for municipal offices was in 2009, and the last one before that was in 2003.
This story has been updated to indicate that the caucus has posted candidate videos to their website and will meet soon to make their endorsements.