Endorsement: John Baar for Oak Brook village president
The two candidates running for Oak Brook village president agree that the village is at a crossroads. Among the key challenges facing the village are filling the hole left with McDonald's move to the city of Chicago, leaving several large vacant properties, flat sales tax revenue as Oak Brook Center faces fierce competition from online sales and sharply rising costs for municipal pensions.
Two strong candidates are competing for the job of leading efforts to meet those challenges.
One is two-term incumbent Gopal Lalmalani, 69, a cardiologist with a wealth of accomplishments in his professional life, who we endorsed eight years ago to bring needed change, and endorsed last time against better opponents because he had delivered, calming the political infighting that characterized the time of his predecessor.
The other candidate is John Baar, 66, who has been on the village board for six years and has a long history of involvement with a wide variety of civic associations in the village.
Lalmalani emphasizes his pledge of no new taxes, which he points out he has kept after making it in his previous campaigns. The village has done a good job of cutting costs, and more can be done in that area.
At the same time, the village faces a more difficult future, Oak Brook has no municipal property tax and its residents are not going to accept lower services or inadequate infrastructure.
Baar proposes a 1 percent food and beverage tax to meet rising pension costs without affecting village services.
The tax, common in neighboring suburbs, would be 90 cents on a $90 dinner and paid by those eating in the restaurants, mostly from out of town.
Both candidates have good ideas on how the village should work to ensure its future. But openness to a dining tax is one example of how Baar is looking more broadly at what needs to be done.
Our view is that while any tax should be a last resort, maintaining the no-tax pledge shows a lack of the flexibility that may be needed to meet the village's needs in a changing time.
In this election, we endorse Baar.