Lincolnwood trustees sworn in at meeting
by KEVIN GROSS
Three trustees were sworn in to the Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its meeting on May 7 after they were elected on April 2.
The trustees are newcomer Atour Toma Sargon, Craig Klatzco, who served as a trustee from 2013 to 2017, and Jesal Patel, who was re-elected to his fourth term. Outgoing trustees are Renan Sugarman and Jennifer Spino.
"Now it is incumbent upon us all to keep Lincolnwood a wonderful place to live and put our differences aside and work together, by leading by example, by considering the needs of this entire community, by listening, by being respectful with one another, and by being cautious with our words," Sargon said, who also serves as first vice president on the Lincolnwood Parent Teacher Association. "We must band together and celebrate our differences. I look forward to serving you all."
Alliance for Lincolnwood Party candidates Sargon, Patel and Klatzco were the winners in the municipal election after a contentious campaign against the Lifelong for Lincolnwood slate of candidates that included Sugarman, Jennifer Costantino and Village Economic Development Commission member Joe Spagnoli.
"I’d like to express my thanks to the mayor for giving me the opportunity to serve the Village of Lincolnwood and to have a part in the many accomplishments, which have taken place the last 2 years," Sugarman said. "I’m also grateful for having had the opportunity to work with and get to know the village staff and department heads."
Mayor Barry Bass praised Sugarman and Spino for their service to the village. Spino, who was unable to attend the ceremony, was praised for her role as a trustee liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board and as a prior member of that board.
"Some of (her) highlights include the 40th anniversary of the Turkey Trot, the finalization of the pedestrian trail at the Touhy overpass, and the community-based ‘Go Lincolnwood’ campaign that encouraged residents to get outside and be active. We are fortunate that Jennifer is going to continue serving this community by serving as a member of the Economic Development Commission, following her expected appointment later tonight," Bass said.
At the regular board meeting, the board denied Spino’s and Leonard Weiss’s 3-year appointments to the Economic Development Commission as well as Christina Audisho’s 3-year appointment to the Parks and Recreation Board, with trustees Klatzco, Patel and Jean Ikezoe-Halevi voting no, and Bass voting yes to cast the tiebreaking vote.
"Our vote was reflective not necessarily of the people who are being nominated for this, but it’s the way in which we are doing this," Ikezoe-Halevi said, calling the appointment process during the last 2 years non-transparent and "very confusing" without rules of whether applicants hand in rŽsumŽs or other documents. "There’s no standard to submitting something. And also the fact that we don’t let all the people in the village know of (position) openings."
Discussions about reforming the appointment process are expected in future weeks.
The new board also began a discussion on moving closer to a "council-manager" form of government and possibly stripping away some of the mayor’s personnel powers including the hiring and firing of the police chief and certain department heads and moving such responsibilities to the village manager.
"The ‘manager-council’ form of government is the most efficient form of government that we have. It takes the politics out of hiring and firing, and studies that I’ve found and read said that it’s much more efficient, both financially and in getting work done, because nobody’s afraid of what’s going to happen," Klatzco said. "When I served on the board last time, we had a ‘quasi’ council-manager form of government (approved in 2011) and the system worked very well."
Ikezoe-Halevi noted that most surrounding communities "have moved forward to their quasi-managerial leadership," while Patel said a September of 2017 ordinance that granted the mayor hiring and firing power over the police chief, the community development director, the public works director, the finance director and the parks and recreation Director, was made "with very little discussion."
"It’s a healthy conversation to have," Trustee Ronald Cope said. "(But) I prefer a situation where the chief executive officer is actually elected by the people, directly by the people. I’m not convinced that having a bureaucrat running the show is the best way to go."
Village manager Anne Marie Gaura said that she would recuse herself from such discussions due to "potential conflict of interest," and village attorney Steven Elrod explained that a "true" council-manager form of government has never technically existed in Lincolnwood and would require a voter referendum to be enacted.
"We colloquially used the words ‘change the form of government.’ I want to be clear, the Village of Lincolnwood has been operating since its incorporation under a single form of government (a ‘3.1 council-mayor’ form of government)," Elrod said, explaining that the village administrator position, now called village manager, was not created until 1988. "We’ve never ‘changed’ the form of government."
"That did not occur in 2011. Instead, the board approved an ordinance that delegated to the (village) manager the ability to appoint the police chief and the department heads. What happened in 2017 also was not a ‘change’ in the form of government. Instead, it was an ordinance that changed the appointment power of certain positions (granting powers to the mayor)," Elrod said.