Glen Ellyn mayor won't buck trend, seek 2nd term
Glen Ellyn Village President Mark Pfefferman says he won't be a boat-rocker.
He announced last week he won't be seeking a second term at the helm of village government — a decision that fits in line with the town tradition of elected officials serving for only four years.
But it's a custom largely self-imposed, and some village leaders have run for — and been elected to — another term.
That led some local observers to surmise that Pfefferman might buck the trend, and Pfefferman himself said he received "heavy but welcome pressure" from some residents to seek another term.
Ultimately, though, he said he wants to focus on implementing certain village initiatives before his term expires next May — and running for re-election would take away from that.
"Mayoral elections take time. After a lot of soul-searching, I realized I would be taking my attention off completion of this year's (village) goals if I were to seek re-election," Pfefferman wrote in an email to supporters. "I would not be putting Glen Ellyn first for the next several months. We Glen Ellynites cannot afford that at this time in our history. As a public servant and not a politician, I simply could not do that to the village,"
In an interview, Pfefferman said at the beginning of his term he felt strongly about the need to establish a formalized village goals document to use as a guidebook — and he's glad that document is now in place.
Some of the goals on his to-do list include: implementing positive customer service training for village employees, completing an intergovernmental agreement with the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company outlining responsibilities, and evaluating funding options for building a pedestrian tunnel under the train tracks downtown.
And while running for a second term may have allowed him more time to oversee implementation of more initiatives, Pfefferman said he thinks he's "set up a real nice foundation for success for the future in the village."
Pfefferman served as a village trustee from 2003 to 2007, and was a College of DuPage trustee in the 1980s. He says he ran for village president in 2009 after being approached by residents.
It was a time when the village had been dealing with several controversial issues: then-Village Manager Steve Jones recommended the demotion of Police Chief Phil Norton and Community Development Director Staci Hulseberg for "excessive workplace interaction" via text message, though the village board later decided against the demotions; and controversial hires were made for the village's downtown consultant and ambulance contract.
Pfefferman said there was a perception those decisions were largely held behind closed doors.
"I thought I could offer Glen Ellyn a unique, objective, transparent solution," Pfefferman said. "We really needed it at that time in Glen Ellyn history."
Pfefferman, as presider over meetings of the board of trustees, said he made a conscious decision once elected "to be more of a facilitator than a dictator," and let consensus among trustees set the policy direction of village government. That's often led to village board meetings lasting more than four hours, with presentations from village staff members, public comment, and discussions among village trustees.
"I sat on boards where the trustees' opinions were not welcome, let alone the public," he said. "I've tried to reverse that 180 degrees and really welcome and appreciate the village board's and public input."
Pfefferman himself doesn't always express his opinion on an issue — only voting to break ties of the village board.
With Pfefferman deciding not to seek another term, that opens the door to others to be the next village president.
In Glen Ellyn, elections are facilitated by the Civic Betterment Party, a so-called "nonparty party" that hosts a town-hall meeting before local elections to determine a slate of candidates for village offices.
A nominating committee recruits potential candidates for village president, village board, village clerk and library board, while also welcoming "any and all" that may be interested in running, said Erik Ford, the party's nominating chair.
The committee interviews candidates before narrowing down the list and presenting those finalists at the town hall meeting, scheduled this year for Dec. 1. The public is invited to a candidates forum, then cast secret ballots for their choices.
Ford said he hasn't yet received applications for any elective office, though the process is just starting.
The party has been around since 1931, with its intent always being "to keep partisan politics, special interests and the need to raise funds out of our civic elections," Ford said.
"There's a lot of capable, well-meaning people in the village, and we want to give them the opportunity to serve the community without becoming a professional politician," he said.
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