A little more than three weeks ago, voters across the country cast ballots for president. This Saturday, voters in Glen Ellyn are going back to the polls to do the same -- albeit on a smaller scale.
Two candidates for village president -- Alex Demos and Mary Loch -- are seeking the endorsement of the Civic Betterment Party, an 82-year-old nonpartisan nominating organization that aims to select candidates for local office without the need for extensive and expensive campaigning.
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Historically, those who win enough votes at the party's town meeting go on to win the official village elections in April, effectively making Saturday a primary election. Some, though, have bucked the trend, such as current Trustee Pete Ladesic, who didn't receive the party's backing in 2006 but then ran an independent campaign for village trustee and was elected.
Glen Ellyn residents who are 18 or older and have lived in town for more than a year are eligible to cast a ballot in the races for village president, village board, village clerk, and library board from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Civic Center, 535 Duane St. Early voting began Tuesday, and continues from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
Demos, 50, president/CEO of Professional Paving & Concrete Company in Glen Ellyn, is facing Loch, 58, a controller for Community Housing Advocacy and Development, a nonprofit property management company in Wheaton.
Demos said if elected he would use his experience as a business owner to help attract businesses and support existing ones. He also said the village's approval process for new businesses should be streamlined -- and he's already working on that issue as chairman of the village's Process Improvement Team, a three-member committee appointed in October by current Village President Mark Pfefferman.
"We need to take the process and make Glen Ellyn the most inviting ... We want to say, 'Thanks for considering, how can we help you?'" Demos said. "In business you have to compete. And we need to apply this practical business sense to the village."
Loch said what separates her from Demos is her experience in village government. She was a village trustee from 2001 to 2005, currently serves on the plan commission -- in addition to an earlier stint from 1999 to 2001 -- and was on the zoning board of appeals for a short time this year. Like Demos, Loch has been on the Economic Development Corporation board -- though the two served at different times.
She said the village's biggest challenge is its financial situation and elected officials have to be "diligent" in watching expenses. She said she wants to keep the Roosevelt Road and downtown areas "vibrant," and maintain the village as a place where people want to live and businesses want to locate.
Both candidates indicated their leadership style could be different from Pfefferman's, who has let consensus among village trustees set the policy direction of village government -- often leading to board meetings that last for more than four hours, with presentations from village staff members, public comment and discussions among trustees.
"I think it's great everybody has a voice. Civic discourse is really good. Everybody cares about Glen Ellyn and wants to offer ideas. But I think I would be a little more decisive than I think Mark is. I think he lets decisions evolve," Loch said. "I think Mark has bent over backward to make sure everyone's been heard, but once everyone's been heard, you have to declare that the issues have been put on the table and make a decision."
Added Demos: "I like to lead first by example ... The village president facilitates conversation and board meetings, but there's times you have to make a decision. I can be decisive."
Pfefferman, as village president, is responsible for making appointments to village commissions, and he's appointed both Demos and Loch to roles in the past year -- for Demos, an appointment to the new process committee, and for Loch, appointments to the zoning board and plan commission.
Pfefferman, who is upholding the village's unwritten rule of serving a single term, said he wouldn't make an endorsement on his replacement.
Also Saturday, residents will choose from five candidates running for three available trustee positions: Dean Clark, Tim Elliott, Tom Koprowski, Tim O'Shea and Jim Ozog. One candidate, Catherine Galvin, is running for village clerk. Four candidates are seeking three open seats on the Glen Ellyn Public Library board: Kelli Christiansen, Amie Fiedor, Gina Meyers and Ran Sailer.
All candidates were recruited, interviewed and slated by a 17-person nominating committee. The candidates -- as well as anyone else who wishes to seek the party's support from the floor -- will offer their views at the party's town meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday on the second floor of the Civic Center.
Most of the candidates are expected to be present all day to answer questions from voters, according to Erik Ford, the party's nominating chairman.
The winners, to be announced after polls close Saturday and results are tabulated, officially receive the party's backing and assistance in preparing and filing nominating petitions to get their name on the April ballot. The process doesn't prevent a losing candidate -- or anyone else -- from submitting nominating petitions during the Dec. 17-24 candidate filing period at the village clerk's office to run in the spring municipal election.