This is the last in a four-part series of articles covering a Mayoral Forum held on Friday, March 15. The West Suburban Journal sponsored the event. Of the five candidates running for office, three showed.V
After moderator questions, the floor was open to questions from the audience. One person asked why the park district consolidation plan hadn’t happened, yet.
Trustee Guzman said that the Village has to get a true understanding of its recreational needs. Part of the problem with the transfer, he said, was that it wasn’t binding. This has to change [I’ll admit that, even though these answers are purposefully truncated for the sake of space and time, I haven’t done full justice to Guzman’s answer. I welcome the AIM team, Guzman himself or anyone else with more in-depth information on where Trustee Guzman stands on this issue to respond to this post directly or via email].
Trustee Perkins said that the Village wanted to give the parks up to the Park District as they were, a move that she disagrees with. “Why would the Maywood Park District take the Village’s garbage…first clean [the parks] up…All the parks means all the parks, but that’s not what the village did.”
Mrs. Gooden said that the conflict between the Village and the Park District has been “going on since I’ve been here.” She said that the resolution is simple: “Give it to them.”
Someone wanted to know why Maywood Market failed.
Trustee Perkins said that it was her idea for a grocery store to be built in Maywood, but that the community couldn’t get a large chain store and there was no outside demand to stimulate the store that was built. “$5 million for a store that didn’t last for more than a year,” she said. “[The store] wasn’t on a sound foundation…That was your money…Your $5 million was put into that…Not one dollar was returned to Maywood,” she told the audience.
Mrs. Gooden said that one reason why the store failed was because of its very name. A grocery store announcing that its location is in Maywood, she implied, is inherently uninviting—echoing her call for a ‘rebranding’ effort to be put into effect by Village leadership. She also said that it was the wrong type of store. “It needed to be a big box business to compete with surrounding villages,” she said. In addition, “the produce wasn’t that great [and] the prices were high.” She agreed with Trustee Perkins that there needed to be more outside demand.
Trustee Guzman said that there was a case study done between 2001 and 2005, which concluded that a market should not have been built at the location that Maywood Market was built. His implication is that the Village leadership ignored the advice of the case study and built the Market, anyway. He said that the developers of the store were too embedded into Village relations, implying that the store was another instance of how it apparently pays to have friends in high positions in Maywood. On top of this, the developers were consistently over-budget and behind deadline. “They kept coming back saying they need more money,” Guzman said.
The last question was addressed to the candidates’ thoughts on Village Manager Bill Barlow. One person wanted to know what the candidates thought of his leadership and whether or not they would keep him on if any got elected.
Trustee Perkins stated that she would retain Barlow for a period, so that there would not be a disruptive change in management. She complimented Barlow, saying that he’s doing a good job with what he has. She said that many of the incompetent workers that he has under him, he inherited. However, it would not be wise to simply “throw them out.” A gradual process of reform must first be implemented.
Mrs. Gooden said that Barlow shouldn’t be retained. She said that she doesn’t agree with the Village manager form of government and would support a referendum to replace it with a full-time mayoral system. She said that having the dual system of leadership works to deflect accountability away from the Mayor.
Trustee Guzman said that Barlow’s strong suit is that he’s connected in the community. He said that the Village’s operation has to scaled down. But, in terms of replacing or retaining Barlow, the entire Village board has to come collectively come to that decision. In this, Guzman emphasized closer collaboration among Village leadership.