By Bob Uphues
With local elections two months away, three area organizations will host a slew of candidate meet-and-greets as well as a couple of more formal forums in the coming weeks.
Indivisible Brookfield will host the first of these events, a meet-and-greet with candidates running for the Brookfield Village Board, on Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the party room at Slager's, 9308 47th St. in Brookfield.
"The purpose of our meet-and-greet events is to provide an opportunity for the residents of Brookfield and surrounding communities to get to know who is running for office in a relaxed, social setting," stated an email announcing the events from the Indivisible Brookfield steering committee.
At 7:30 p.m., a brief formal program will allow each candidate to speak to attendees for a few minutes. The rest of the event will allow candidates to mingle with attendees and answer individual questions informally.
Other meet-and-greets hosted by Indivisible Brookfield prior to the election will include one for candidates for the school boards of Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95, Riverside District 96 and Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 on Tuesday, March 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Cottage at Irish Times, 8869 Burlington Ave. in Brookfield and one for candidates for the school boards of LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, Lyons-Brookfield District 103 and Lyons Township High School 204 from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 in the party room at Slager's in Brookfield.
Meanwhile, the folks from Indivisible West Suburban Action League are planning to host a candidate meet-and-greet for candidates running for village trustee in North Riverside on Monday, Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the North Riverside Public Library, 2400 Desplaines Ave.
Lisa Janunas, a spokeswoman for Indivisible West Suburban Action League, said the group's initial plan was to host a forum featuring candidates for trustee but that the group received no response from VIP Party candidates, Deborah Czajka, Martin DeLeonardis and Matthew Decosola. The three independent candidates, H. Bob Demopoulos, Marybelle Mandel and Luigi "Gino" Labellarte had agreed to the forum, Janunas said.
North Riverside Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. said VIP is wary of forum events because he believes that in the past "questions have been stacked" against VIP and that opponents "are given a certain advantage in what they're looking for."
Eventually, the Indivisible group, which includes members from North Riverside and Riverside, decided on a more informal meet-and-greet for Feb. 25. VIP responded to that invitation by saying the party had planned its own meet-and-greet on the same night from 6 to 8 p.m. in the lower-level conference room at MB Bank, 7222 Cermak Road.
Janunas said her group had no interest in rigging a forum against a particular group of candidates.
"We don't have an agenda," Janunas said. "We have a lot of North Riverside members and we really wanted to help them. This event really came out of that. We didn't have ulterior motives."
Indivisible West Suburban Action League will host a formal candidate forum for those running for seats on the Riverside-Brookfield High School Board of Education on Wednesday, March 13 in the auditorium of the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road in Riverside.
The question-and-answer event will be moderated by Elyse Hoffenberg, a LaGrange resident and member of the LaGrange School District 105 board.
In addition, the League of Women Voters of the LaGrange Area will host a candidate forum for those running for school board seats in District 102 and District 204 on Tuesday, March 12 at 7 p.m. at the Lyons Township High School South Campus Performing Arts Center, 4900 S. Willow Springs Road in Western Springs.
District 102 candidates will make brief presentations and then answer questions from 7 to 8 p.m. LTHS school board candidates will follow from 8:15 to 9:15 p.m.
Anyone wishing to submit questions for consideration can send them to lwv2019SD102@gmail.com and to lwv2019SD204@gmail.com.