By Bob Uphues
The 2021 election of Brookfield president, clerk and trustee will be unusually quiet, something village residents haven't seen in decades.
There won't be much, if any campaigning or lawn signs or direct mail blitzes or debates or intrigue typical of a Brookfield village board race.
For the first time in anyone's memory – perhaps since the late 1960s or early 1970s – Brookfield will have an uncontested election.
When the village clerk's office closed at the end of the candidate filing period on Dec. 21, the only nominating petitions turned in were the ones submitted by the PEP Party. Michael Garvey, who is finishing up his second consecutive term as a trustee, will return to the village president's chair, a position he held from 2005-13.
Kit Ketchmark, who is completing his second term as president, will return to a seat at the board table as a trustee. He'll be joined by incumbent Edward Cote and Jennifer Hendricks, who will give up her seat on the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission to become a first-time trustee.
Brigid Weber, the incumbent village clerk, will continue in that role.
"I think there's a good part that goes to people thinking we're doing a good job," Ketchmark said of the absence of a challenger. "Not that it's perfect, but I think people have confidence in us."
As far as COVID-19's impact on the willingness of anyone else wanting to step into a role as president or trustee in the midst of a pandemic, Ketchmark said he wasn't sure. But he did admit that anyone coming into the job cold would face enormous challenges.
"For anyone at any level of government it's been a very challenging year," Ketchmark said. "It might not be an ideal time for someone new to step up. For someone who is a complete outsider to come in, to me, would be unbelievably challenging."
While there had been some speculation that Brookfield may have experienced an uncontested election in the late 1980s, a search of the Chicago Tribune's online archive showed that there had been contested elections for village president since at least 1977.
There wasn't any information about the 1985 election for trustee, but there was a contested presidential election that year, hinting at a contested trustee race as well.
From 1961-75, Philip Hollinger was Brookfield's village president, and it's possible he might have not faced an opponent during that stretch, but the Tribune archive was inconclusive.
In 1976, Hollinger was found guilty of extortion and tax evasion and sentenced to 20 months in federal prison. The conviction resulted two years later in voters passing a law limiting Brookfield municipal officials to two consecutive terms in office. An attempt to repeal that law in 1988 was unsuccessful.
Hollinger ran to regain his old seat as president in 1981, but lost. He also ran unsuccessfully for trustee in 1987.
Riverside election will go uncontested
Despite an expectation that the race for three trustee seats on the Riverside Village Board would be a competitive one in April 2021, that turned out not to be the case after no one else filed nominating petitions on the final day, Dec. 21.
The slate of candidates that will appear on the ballot was endorsed by the Riverside Community Caucus in October. Running under the banner Riverside 2021, former village trustee Joseph Ballerine will take on the duties of village president, while he'll be joined on the board by two-term incumbent Trustee Doug Pollock and first-time candidates Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga and Megan Claucherty.
Back in October after being passed over by the caucus, incumbent Trustee Wendell Jisa said he would run for re-election as an independent. However, he chose not to file nominating petitions.
"[Jisa's wife] Val and I decided that with three kids under 8 years old and a growing demands in my role as CEO of Reveal that all of my free time needs to be spent building family memories," Jisa said in an email response to an inquiry from the Landmark. "This past summer we spent every weekend at our beach house in Michigan, and we have never been happier. Being a great dad and husband is my number one priority."