Candidates for Lombard village president made their pitch to a couple dozen residents during a candidate forum sponsored by local chapters of the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women.
At a two-hour forum Wednesday that also included candidates for Helen Plum Memorial Library board, Lombard park board and three trustee positions, the three men seeking to be the Lilac Village's next president were short on time to sell themselves.
But Keith Giagnorio, Moon Khan and John Lotus Novak each discussed their long-term goals for the village and explained why they would be the best candidate to bring about those results.
Giagnorio, a 51-year-old owner/operator of Giagnorio's Pizza in Lombard, said his goals include protecting the village's police and fire departments from a move toward privatization favored by at least one trustee and developing new strategies to attract businesses to Lombard.
"I highly value our vital public services and I feel it's imperative that we support them," Giagnorio said.
As a trustee since 2010, Giagnorio said he would be able to "hit the ground running" as village president to bring back unity among a board that has been divided since the death of its longtime leader Bill Mueller.
"I'm running for village president to put your voice, your goals, your dreams and your Lombard pride back in our village," he told residents gathered at village hall.
Khan, a 57-year-old former York Township trustee who works in information technology, said one of his main long-term goals is to ensure Lombard government is as diverse as the village itself. He greeted Wednesday's crowd with "good evening" in about 10 languages and said he is a fluent speaker of five. Khan said Asian, Hispanic and African-American residents make up about 30 percent of Lombard's population, but not of its elected officials.
"The balance of the power on the board needs to be changed," Khan said. "I believe politics should not be based on groups and ideologies, but it ought to focus on values, and most importantly, compromise."
As he seeks the village president seat, Khan is uniting with two other candidates to form something of a slate. Khan encouraged voters to support Muzammil Saeed for District 3 trustee and Deanne Theodore for village clerk.
"I will improve our town and village board by being a consensus-builder," Khan said. "I will not work in factions."
Novak, who is 71 and retired, said he wants to safeguard Lombard's long-term financial health, specifically as it relates to the Westin hotel and its inability to meet bond payments with the revenue it is generating. The village's credit rating was downgraded to BBB about a year ago after trustees voted not to use taxpayer money to pay back Westin debt.
"I want to pursue a strong financial situation with no more downgrades in our credit rating," said Novak, who served 30 years as DuPage County treasurer.
Joining his opponents, Novak said he wants to bring lasting unity to the village board. He said he decided to enter the race after watching the "spectacle" last fall of trustees' inability to choose temporary leadership for more than a month after Mueller's death, finally settling on a plan to split the remainder of the term between trustees Peter Breen and Bill Ware.
"I think I'm in a strong position to do something about the current dysfunction of our board," Novak said.
Novak, Khan and Giagnorio are seeking election April 9 to a 4-year term as village president.