When it came down to choosing who we are endorsing for village trustee in the village of North Riverside, a couple of things were clear.
First, we are endorsing H. Bob Demopoulos for a third term on the village board because he continues to be an independent voice for good-government practices. Demopoulos has a firm handle on the issues facing the village and advocates (sometimes successfully) for commonsense practices like bidding out large service contracts.
He's also realistic and can work with the VIP majority in crafting the village's budget, coming to conclusions about raising fees for services and passing them along to residents who use those services and finding alternate streams of revenue that are critical to maintaining service levels.
We are also endorsing Deborah Czajka and Martin DeLeonardis, two of the three VIP Party candidates running. Czajka is a veteran of both the village board and, before that, the Komarek School board. DeLeonardis will be a new voice on the board and appears to be prepared for the job, having served on the Komarek School board and on the village's E911 board.
Truth be told, however, we're unsure exactly how independent either will be and what new ideas they might bring to the table. VIP has made it a habit, of late, to really put a lid on encouraging anything resembling stepping over the party line.
The party's penchant for submitting identical responses to the Landmark's candidate questionnaires is frustrating – not just for us, but for voters. How are voters supposed to judge how people think without allowing candidates to formulate their own thoughts?
It's also troublesome that almost none of the candidates, save Marybelle Mandel who we are not endorsing but acknowledge as an independent voice, sees North Riverside's approach to public transparency as something to improve.
We're talking here specifically about providing taxpayers simple online access to information about village board meetings, village board committee meetings and advisory commission meetings – packets containing items many local governments routinely provide, like lists of bills paid, copies of ordinances and supporting documents, staff memos, and at the very least audio recordings of board meetings and committee meetings.
That right there ought to be priority No. 1 for future village boards.