You'd think serving on the Brookfield Village Board would provide enough political headaches for one person. But you'd be wrong.
When it comes to becoming entangled in partisan political battles, two Brookfield residents are seeking out the fertile ground of Proviso Township by running for township trustee.
Brookfield Trustee Linda Stevanovich said she was recruited by fellow VIP Party member and Village President Bill Russ to run with a slate led by Township Trustee Anthony Luciano in his bid to unseat current Township Supervisor Kathy Ryan.
Others on the Luciano slate, which has named itself the Township Citizens Party, include incumbent Township Clerk Michael McDermott, who is seeking reelection to that post and Jeanne Connelly for assessor. Running with Stevanovich for the four trustee spots are incumbent James Bishop, Richard Ruis and Imoni Baxter.
"My time [as trustee] in Brookfield is almost done, and I wanted to stay involved in government," Stevanovich said. "I see deficiencies in Proviso Township."
Meanwhile, Brookfield resident Catherine Colgrass Edwards, who is running on April 5 for Brookfield trustee, will be competing against Stevanovich for township trustee on Ryan's Township Integrity Party slate.
Edwards said that she was asked to run through PEP Party village presidential candidate Michael Garvey. Edwards knew Ryan previously through Edwards' job as recreation director for the Village of Brookfield.
"The attraction is primarily because of the seniors," Edwards said. "The seniors need a location in the village where they can do more than play cards and bingo for three hours a day, two days a week. Kathy Ryan has that same interest."
That's not the message Ryan's opponents are sending. Last week, Brookfield residents were targeted with a letter from "Citizens for Truth" blaming Ryan for closing the Brookfield Senior Center and claiming that PEP and Edwards are part of that problem.
After stating that "Kathy Ryan closed the Brookfield Senior Center on Broadway Ave. in Brookfield," the leaflet goes on to ask, "Can the seniors of Brookfield afford to have [Edwards] as a village trustee? Do we condone double dipping? Will she represent Brookfield's seniors?"
Edwards said that is an oversimplification of the issue, saying that she would like to see a location in Brookfield for seniors to gather and socialize.
The old center closed, she said, during the township's effort to acquire property for a larger senior center on the south end of the township. Ryan asked for a six-month extension on the lease of the Brookfield Senior Center, but the landlord wanted a two-year commitment.
After deciding against the long-term lease, the deal for the new building fell apart, and Brookfield's seniors have been meeting in the basement of the village hall twice a week ever since.
Ryan, meanwhile, said that she is recommitted to opening a senior center in Brookfield.
"I'd definitely go back to Brookfield, because those people want it, and nobody else is asking," Ryan said.
Edwards and Ryan have also suggested that the Township Citizens Party is a spoiler slate orchestrated by Dan Coglianese. A former supporter of hers, Ryan said Coglianese switched sides after Ryan cut him out of township politics.
The strategy, they say is for the Luciano slate to siphon votes away from Ryan in order to restore power to the Melrose Park-backed Township Alliance Party slate led by Bellwood resident Mari Herrell. That slate has the support of Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico. Serpico contributed $200 to Brookfield's VIP Party, whose members include Russ and Stevanovich, in 2002.
Brookfield resident John Gallagher, a friend of Russ' who is Brookfield's assistant to the village manager, ran unsuccessfully for Proviso Township trustee in 2001 on Ryan's slate.
Serpico confirmed that he was backing Herrell's slate in the election, but denied any involvement with Luciano's slate, saying Ryan's assertion was "totally incorrect."
"I don't talk to Dan [Coglianese]," Serpico said. "I have no reason to be, but now it's convenient for them to say he's with me."
Riverside Twp. race unopposed
Meanwhile, the race for township offices in Riverside Township is a very quiet affair. An all-incumbent Republican slate of Patricia M. Pavlich (supervisor), Schofield B. Gross (assessor), Adam Yurkiw (collector), Vera A. Wilt (clerk), A. Wayne Gieseman (trustee), Ann Dynako Kubiczky (trustee), John D. Ertler (trustee) and Richard Tuscher (trustee) will run unopposed.
Riverside Township comprises all but the very southern tip of Riverside and North Riverside east of First Avenue.