Wilmette hopefuls campaign in amiable forum
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:10AM
WILMETTE — Political hopefuls and audience members sported multiple shades of green Sunday, as they spent their St. Patrick’s Day afternoon speaking or listening at the Wilmette League of Women Voters candidates’ forum, held at Village Hall.
Mike Basil and Bob Bielinski, competing to succeed outgoing Wilmette Village Board President Chris Canning, kicked off the afternoon with brief statements and longer question and answer periods.
The two echoed each other’s support for making Wilmette, especially its downtown area, business-friendly.
Basil touted six years of board experience, including streamlining permit regulations and efforts to help fill business vacancies, saying “you will not find a more energetic, experienced or effective voice to make Wilmette the most desirable community on the North Shore.”
Bielinski said his finance committee work had saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and promised “a balanced, practical, approach” along with a work ethic that he said had already marked him in his two years on the board as “the guy who does the extra work.”
Both men defended not having voted to provide 100 percent renewable energy credits when Wilmette approved its village electric power provider last year; saying they wanted individuals to be free to choose either the lowest cost or the greenest choice. Both also said they supported “green” issues like biking and transit oriented development.
They deferred gun control issues to the federal government and also fielded questions on Green Bay Road traffic, waste composting and the former Ford property on Green Bay.
Wilmette park board
Four Wilmette Park Board candidates – incumbents Darrell Graham and John Olvany, as well as newcomers Bryan Abbott and Amy Wolfe – joked during their forum segment about often echoing each others’ views on lakefront and park use, and maintaining the current balance between user fees and taxes to fund district operations. They are competing for three four-year seats.
They all supported Park District management of the Elmwood dunes property, following whatever protocol decided on by the village, which owns it. Each also agreed that the district could partner with whatever private group manages Wilmette Harbor, but that the district was right not to try to manage the harbor itself.
Olvany and Graham told listeners they wanted to help complete significant ongoing capital projects at the golf course, and Centennial ice arena, as well as completing a lakefront master plan. Abbott said he wanted to bring his civil engineering experience to the board and said he supported keeping the lakefront as open as possible to all. Wolfe said she wanted to bring her experience as a daily user of the district’s services to the community, as well as her fundraising, sales and marketing experience.
School District 39 board
Only four of five School District 39 candidates attended Sunday’s forum; incumbents John Flanagin and Kimberly Alcantara, and newcomers Mark Steen and Jasmine Hauser. Incumbent board member Cindy Levine was unable to appear. The five are competing for four four-year positions; Alcantara, Flanagin, Levine and Steen are running together as a slate.
Flanagin said his board experience was strengthened by his experience on the district’s education foundation as well as his business experience, including management of a company with unionized personnel that he said mirrors aspects of the district’s personnel needs.
Alcantara, an attorney, said she was proud of the work she has done to help create new science lab facilities at Wilmette Junior High School. She touted her past work on the district’s community review committee, recommending curriculum changes.
Steen, a former physics teacher and financial analyst said he’d bring an open mind to the board and use logical thinking and data gathering habits to serve the public. He supported the district’s financial record, saying it had the lowest per pupil operating cost in New Trier Township.
Hauser told listeners she wants to bring her extensive PTA and PTO experience to the board, and act as an alternative to current board members, reaching out to community members who feel they don’t have a voice, including those who felt most impacted by the 2011 District 39 tax referendum.
For more information on the candidates running in Wilmette’s contested races, including their answers to specific questions from the League, access the Wilmette League of Women Voters page at lwvwilmette.org/ and click on the voter’s guide.