River Forest president campaign heats up
Updated: April 29, 2013 2:16AM
RIVER FOREST — The two sitting village trustees vying to replace outgoing River Forest Village President John Rigas are gearing up their campaigns as March arrives.
Both Mike Gibbs and Cathy Adduci ran four years ago in a slate with Rigas. Now, besides outlining their approaches to governance, they are working to show support among voters and other village leaders.
Gibbs touted the support of 44 people in his Feb. 13 press release, including Rigas, sitting trustee Carmela Corsini and former village clerk P.J. Hosty.
Adduci released a list of 64 supporters on Feb. 17. They include outgoing trustee Susan Conti, former trustee Russ Nummer, and two members of the D200 high school board, vice–president John Phelan and Amy McCormack, as well as library board trustee Mary T. Small.
Gibbs, a sales executive for his family-owned elevator repair company, is running on a slate that includes trustee candidates Tom Dwyer, Jr., Kevin Hanley and Lissa Druss Christman. All three trustee candidates are seeking elective office for the first time.
However, Gibbs stressed the team aspect of the slate he’s running with, touting Kevin Hanley’s senior position with the Merrill Lynch investment firm and Dwyer’s CPA. Christman works in public relations.
“We’re losing John Rigas and Jim Winikates,” Gibbs noted. Rigas, a lawyer, also has a CPA. Winikates, an MBA, has an extensive financial background.
All told, Gibbs said, “I think we will maintain that financial expertise on the board.”
The other non-slate trustee candidates, Tom Cargie and Roma Coldwell-Steinke, are sitting elected board members. Coldwell-Steinke is finishing a four-year term as village clerk, while Cargie, an attorney, is concluding a six-year term on the park district board, the past two as board president.
Both president candidates said keeping village finances stable is a key challenge, and both stressed the need for increased economic development efforts.
They also agree Home Rule is a dead issue in the village after voters rejected a referendum by a 4-1 margin.
Adduci said a clear difference between her background and Gibbs’ is that she has the corporate and educational experience to deal with the array of challenges the village faces. That includes an MBA in finance from Loyola University and 32 years of senior executive experience as vice president and general manager of Unisys Corporation, where she was responsible for a $500 million division and managed hundreds of employees.
“I think experience and qualifications matter,” she said. “I have led, not just been part of, small and large organizations.”
One clear dividing line between Adduci and Gibbs policy-wise is on red-light camera traffic enforcement. Gibbs is a staunch advocate, while Adduci is against it.
Gibbs said the last two police chiefs supported red-light cameras on officer safety grounds. He also argued that at roughly 30 minutes per traffic stop, the 1,439 citations would have tied up approximately 150 police man hours a week.
“We’d rather have them patrolling the street,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs also said he’s making a firm pledge to direct every dollar of red light camera revenue to the police and fire departments and nowhere else.
“It wasn’t a dollar grab, it was for public safety,” he said.
Adduci jumped on news that a single red light camera had generated more 1,439 red light citations during the first four weeks of operation, netting the village more than $85,000.
“What does that tell you,” she asked. “Did we do it for safety or for revenue?”
As for earmarking any revenue to the police department, she said that “was the right thing to do. The village board has already had discussions about that.”
Gibbs said “our main platform is we have four lifetime residents of the community.” He also noted he and his three colleagues all have kids in River Forest schools.
“Our simplest (plank) is to maintain River Forest the way it is. To provide quality services while watching our bottom line.”
Gibbs also stressed the need for greater economic development efforts and finding additional revenues.
Adduci, an 18-year village resident, said a personal history in the village is “important but not the main issue.”
She said property values and property taxes are among her main concerns, and pledged to maintain a balanced budget with no further debt, while working to find additional revenue.
“We want River Forest to be vibrant,” she said. Half the village population moved to River Forest in the past decade, she said, so “we have to include residents who just joined us.”