Applicants Make Pitches for Oak Lawn Village Board Vacancy at Public Forum
Five residents step forward to fill former Trustee Jerry Hurckes' seat on the board. Deadline for consideration is Friday, Sept. 23. Dist. 1 residents have until Oct. 1 to contact the mayor with their recommendation for trustee.
A pair of real estate brokers, a home healthcare worker and a local business booster made their pitches Tuesday evening before about 100 residents to fill a vacancy on the Oak Lawn Village Board.
Residents from Dist. 1 gathered at Harnew Elementary School on the west end of the village in a public forum hosted by Mayor Dave Heilmann to help select their next trustee to replace Jerry Hurckes, who resigned from the village board last month.
“This is your trustee, not Dave’s trustee or the other five board members’ trustee,” Heilmann said. “I want this to be as open and democratic as we can possibly do so that when you walk away, no matter who becomes the trustee, you’re thinking only one thing—that it was fair.”
Hurckes resigned less than six months into his third term to go back to his old job as chief of staff for Congressman Dan Lipinski. The mayor has 60 days to recommend someone to fill Hurckes’ vacancy on the village board.
Should the village board reject the first nomination, the mayor will make a second choice. If the village board rejects the second applicant, the mayor will select one of the two applicants to serve as village board trustee.
The person chosen to fill the vacancy will serve as the Dist. 1 trustee until the next municipal election, in 2013, after which he or she will run for a two-year term.
The mayor said he would leave it up to residents to decide whom they want as their representative and he would take their recommendation to the village board. Trustees are expected to take a public vote, most likely at the Oct. 11 regular board meeting.
Four applicants are interested in the job and introduced themselves to residents at Tuesday’s forum. A fifth applicant, Dan Risley, was unable to attend. Those speaking Tuesday included:
- Jim Kolar, a third-generation Oak Lawn resident and a DePaul University graduate. He is a CPA and worked for Deloitte and Touche, where he oversaw accounts of private Fortune 500 companies as well as the City of Chicago, including overseeing the sale of the Chicago Skyway. He left the corporate world to become a real estate broker so he could spend more time with his family.
- Eileen O’Sullivan, a 15-year resident of Oak Lawn who raised two sons in the village as a single parent. She helped change the length of class periods at Simmons Middle School after realizing that Simmons had the shortest periods of area middle schools. She’s worked as a bartender, has run her own cleaning business and currently is a home healthcare worker.
- Joe Cwiklinski, a 35-year resident of Oak Lawn, a Vietnam War veteran and belongs to St. Gerald’s Church. He brings 25 years’ experience in the transportation field and has spent the last 15 years as a real estate broker. Fluent in Polish, he’s helped Polish immigrants purchase their own homes and represented them in development matters before municipal boards throughout the Southland.
- Gary Mentgen, who currently serves on the village’s Business Development Commission. He is a salesman for a Fortune 500 company and represents 500 union members. Mentgen was on an Oak Lawn Park District committee that helped develop Stony Creek Golf Course. In addition, he has served as a scout leader and coached youth sports in the village. He helped found “Shop Oak Lawn,” an initiative to support local businesses.
Heilmann said other applicants interested in filling the Dist. 1 vacancy have until Friday, Sept. 23 to contact him to be placed under consideration.
Residents have until Oct. 1 to contact the mayor with their preference for village board trustee. Residents must be registered voters of Dist. 1.
The mayor said he would take residents’ recommendations to the village board members for a public vote at their Oct. 11 meeting. Applicants and residents can contact Mayor Heilmann by email at email@example.com.
STARTING THURSDAY, Patch will begin featuring Dist. 1 trustee applicants’ videotaped statements from the forum.