5 Glen Ellyn village board candidates seek Civic Betterment Party's nod

 
 
Updated 11/9/2018 11:15 AM
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  • Mark Senak

    Mark Senak

  • Patrick Escalante

    Patrick Escalante

  • Kelli Christiansen

    Kelli Christiansen

  • Matthew Jones

    Matthew Jones

  • Stephen Thompson

    Stephen Thompson

Glen Ellyn voters at a caucus-style town hall next month will have their pick of at least five village board candidates vying for the endorsement of the Civic Betterment Party in the spring election.

The party will back a full slate of candidates for village and library posts after the biennial meeting in December and two rounds of early voting. The party's nominees then become heavy favorites in the April 2 election.

With few exceptions, the Civic Betterment candidates almost always claim victory, effectively making the town hall a primary. It's also unusual for Glen Ellyn officials to serve more than one term, though one village board incumbent is seeking the party's nod and another still hasn't decided if he will again buck tradition and mount an independent campaign.

At the town hall Dec. 1, the 87-year-old party will formally present the five trustee candidates for three available board seats: incumbent Mark Senak, Patrick Escalante, Matthew Jones, Kelli Christiansen and Stephen Thompson.

Senak, an attorney, won a four-year village board seat in 2015. Escalante did not seek re-election to the Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 school board in 2017 after one term. Jones sits on the village's zoning board of appeals. Christiansen earned the party's nod for a library board seat and won in 2013. Thompson is a sales executive and board president of the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce.

Three village trustee seats -- held by Senak, John Kenwood and Pete Ladesic -- are up in the April election. Ladesic, a homebuilder, won a third term in 2015 without the party's backing, duplicating a feat he accomplished in 2007.

Ladesic said Thursday he's still weighing whether to make a bid for a fourth term -- he does know he would run independent of the Civic Betterment slating process -- and then run for village president when that post is up for election in 2021.

He's also considering stepping down after his current board term expires and launching a bid for the village's top elected position in two years.

Kenwood is sticking to tradition by voluntarily stepping down after one term, though he's not ruling out a run for a board seat in two years. He called it a "tough decision" because he enjoys the role and thinks there's a "good team" on the board, but he wanted to open the door to other hopefuls.

"They had a good solid list of candidates that wanted to run, and I think part of what we want to do is get more and more people involved," he said.

The party's nominating committee chose the five after recruiting potential candidates, conducting interviews and narrowing the list to the finalists. The committee -- a group of nearly 20 officers and members who represent five districts in Glen Ellyn -- began accepting applications in August.

Voters will cast secret ballots during the town hall at First United Methodist Church. Candidates not selected by the committee to appear at the town hall can still pursue an endorsement if nominated from the floor.

The top vote-getters earn the party's endorsement and receive the party's assistance in filing nominating petitions to get their names on the April ballot. That filing period with the village clerk's office opens Dec. 10, and continues through Dec. 17.

The nominating process is designed to level the playing field in village elections, party leaders say. Erik Ford, president of the volunteer-run organization, declined to say how many applicants the committee received, but it was more than the five.

"Part of our overriding goal is to keep party politics and money out of the village election," Ford said.

The party also has named eight candidates for four available library trustee seats. The eight chosen to appear at the town hall are Karen Volk, Tim Brinker, Dwight Clarke, Linda Newman, Jennifer Shanahan, Molly McGinnis Knapke, Dena Herbert and Molly Hoerster.

Town hall voting will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1. The candidates will give brief speeches around 10 a.m. Early voting runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 27 and 28 at the Glen Ellyn Library.

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