The longtime village president of Glendale Heights says she's kept all the promises she's made to residents, while her two challengers in the April 9 election say they'd would bring a different perspective to the job.
Linda Jackson, the longest-serving president in Glendale Heights history, is seeking her fourth full term as head of village government, but is trying to stave off challenges from former Trustee Ed Pope and former Queen Bee Elementary District 16 school board member Marilyn Liwanag.
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Jackson, 64, first elected as village president in 2001 and previously appointed to the job in 1999, said during a recent interview with the Daily Herald editorial board that the village has come a long way since she took office. She said improvements have ranged from adding businesses like Valli Produce and car dealerships that have located along North Avenue, to the construction of a senior center and upgrades to the village's sports hub and aquatic center.
"I've been here 39 years, so I know when it was bad and I know it's nowhere near that," she said.
If re-elected Jackson said she would focus on working more with the chamber of commerce on economic development efforts. She also said she would continue to favor giving tax incentives to businesses "when necessary" and if they're bringing revenue to the village in the form of real estate and sales taxes.
Pope, 51, a village trustee for 10 years until he lost in the 2011 election, said he has been a part of the progress the village has made and has shared a similar vision to Jackson's.
And though the two sometimes didn't see eye to eye on everything, they tried not to make it personal, Pope said.
"We were the ying and yang for each other," Pope said. "Her experience was a great help to me as a young trustee because a lot of times you come in like a bull in a china shop with this great idea, and she would listen to me and then slap me down -- but not in a negative way -- and tell me, 'OK, and here's why that's not gonna work.'
"I also was not just a trustee that would rubber stamp for her and she knew that. If she wanted something she would have to sell me on it," Pope said.
Pope said he would be more aggressive in going after big-box retailers and other businesses to locate on available land in Glendale Heights, particularly along North Avenue.
"I think I put my time in and learned quite a bit. But I'd like to go after some things more aggressively," he said. "I think the village is in good shape. I just think it's time for a different perspective to the way the village is looked at and to bring some different ideas to the table."
Liwanag, 63, who was a Queen Bee school board member for 12 years, said she would bring a "new vision" to the village that is different from Jackson's and Pope's. She's proposed combating high unemployment in the village by starting an initiative that encourages businesses to employ qualified village residents. She said she would try to attract new businesses to the village by looking at what is working in other villages.
Taking aim at Jackson and Pope, Liwanag vowed if elected that none of her family members would work for the village. Jackson has four family members on the village payroll: a daughter who is assistant to the director of parks and recreation, a son who works in the streets department, a son who works in the parks department, and a daughter-in-law who is a janitor. Pope's wife is an office technician in the police department and his sister works for the parks department.
"I'm not saying they're doing nepotism," Liwanag said, "but (it's) the appearance of nepotism."
Jackson said she never pressured any heads of village departments to hire family members.
"My kids applied for their jobs the same as anybody else," Jackson said. "I never had anything to do with who got jobs. My feeling is, please hire the best person for the job, period."