Trustee Henderson Yarbrough, the former Maywood mayor, right, shakes hands with Metra executive director and CEO Don Orseno during a Nov. 7 groundbreaking for a new Metra train depot on 5th Ave. in Maywood. | File
Thursday, November 10, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Former mayor and sitting trustee, Henderson Yarbrough, stood with petition sheets in hand outside of Irving Middle School, 805 S. 17th Ave., as voters filed into the school’s gymnasium to vote on Tuesday.
During a brief interview, he defended claims about his two-term tenure made by incumbent Mayor Edwenna Perkins, shared his motivation for running for trustee in 2015 and another mayoral term next year, and expressed confidence in his chances come April, 4, 2017.
“I guess you can say I was encouraged to run by people I trust and have confidence in and people who trust, and have confidence, in me,” said Yarbrough. “It certainly wasn’t my plan, when I was out, to come back and run for trustee. I didn’t intend to come back to run for [mayor], either.”
Yarbrough, who recently retired, didn’t specify who those encouragers were, but noted that they may have been motivated to push him into the race “based on who is running and who is not.”
The former mayor — who served two terms from 2005 until 2013 before he was narrowly defeated by Perkins — heads up the Maywood United Party ticket, the same party he rode into office with over a decade ago.
Former Proviso Township High Schools District 209 board member Readith Esther is the ticker’s candidate for clerk. Maywood businessman Antonio Sanchez, former Maywood Trustee Audrey Jaycox and sitting Maywood Trustee Michael Rogers are the ticket’s trustee candidates. All of those candidates, except for Sanchez, have run on the Maywood United platform before.
While formally announcing her bid for reelection last weekend, Perkins said that, under Yarbrough, the village sustained a pattern of business failure. The sitting mayor made her announcement in front of the shuttered Corbin Colonial Funeral Chapel, 1001 Madison St.
The business’s owner, Randy Corbin, claimed the chapel’s closure in 2009 was, in part, due to the village’s unwillingness to extend tax relief in the form of alley easement rights (which he said could’ve qualified him for TIF incentives). In 2008, he told West Suburban Journal, his second installment property taxes were $110,000.
When asked about Corbin on Tuesday, Yarbrough said that it’s misleading to claim that the chapel closed because of him.
“Mr. Corbin came to see me and we had a conversation and he said his taxes went way up and he wasn’t going to be able to stay in business,” the former mayor said. “I put him in touch with [economic development coordinator] Angela Smith and they had a conversation to see if there was anything for us to do to help him out.”
Yarbrough said that when Corbin first opened the chapel, the businessman “wasn’t really asking for anything in particular, or at least not that I’m aware of.”
“There wasn’t really much I could do about the taxes, because he’s not the only one [with high property taxes],” Yarbrough said. “Most of our businesses are suffering from high taxes and we want to do anything and everything we can to keep business here.”
Yarbrough said that Maywood needs to create an environment that’s more inviting to new businesses.
“We talk a lot about new businesses, but the businesses we have really do need a lot of help with these new taxes,” he said. “Outside of grants and some other state and federal funding, there isn’t much we can do about it, except to try to build more businesses and bring in more businesses.
“In order to do that, we have to get our house in order here, too,” he said. “People have to want to come here for a reason. People located to certain places based on the reputation of the town, so we have to do some stuff in house.”
On Tuesday, Yarbrough had his own criticisms of Perkins, noting that, while she’s been mayor, she hasn’t done anything that he’s aware of.
“I don’t see anything she’s done,” he said. “She hasn’t brought anything or offered anything. If she has, I don’t know what it is.”
During her campaign launch last Saturday, Perkins pointed to a development that failed because of board opposition.
In 2013, at the beginning of Perkins’ term, a developer approached the village looking to build a new facility that would house retail establishments and a Maywood branch of Hinsdale Community Bank.
The developer, InSite Real Estate Investment Properties, said that they would complete the new facility by September 2014, but the board failed to marshal the five-vote supermajority among trustees that was required to vacate an alley near the land targeted for development.
The alley vacation was necessary in order for the project to be completed, Maywood attorney Michael Jurusik said at the time.
Trustees Audrey Jaycox, Rivers and Dorris, who were in support of an offer to purchase Lake St. and 1st Ave. by a different developer, would not vote for the alley vacation, thus effectively shutting down the bank and retail center proposal. Yarbrough wasn’t on the board at the time.
Yarbrough also called out the mayor for what he said is her inability to work with people she considers her adversaries.
“She doesn’t really understand how to reach out to the people on the board, the people who have worked, the people who have to work with her,” he said. “She doesn’t seem to be inclusive. And to me, it doesn’t make sense not to do that. I’m a totally inclusive person. If I think you got something to offer, even if you didn’t run on my ticket, we can work together.”
Since his election to the board in 2015, Yarbrough has voted in the majority with Perkins on numerous key proposals and also presented an important vote that blocked the mayor’s office from being relocated from 125 S. 5th Ave. to 40 Madison St. — a move that Perkins was staunchly against.
“For some reason, I don’t know what it is, she’s never seemed to appreciate anything about me,” Yarbrough said of the current mayor. “And I never, ever disrespected her. Ever.”
Yarbrough also addressed Trustee Antonette Dorris’s bid for mayor. Dorris, who is also the current executive director of the Maywood Park District, served as Yarbrough’s executive assistant for several years before she was elected trustee on the Maywood United Party ticket in 2013. She’s also been a trustee for the Bellwood District 88 school board.
“[Dorris] always said she wanted to run if I didn’t run,” Yarbrough said. “She’s been saying that from the beginning. She also said that, if I do run, she’d want to be on my ticket. But I couldn’t make up my mind. I wasn’t planning on running, really.”
Yarbrough said that, by the time he decided to run, Dorris had already decided to stay in the race. He said there’s no antipathy between them.
Dorris has since formed a ticket of her own, the Maywood Visionary Party, which includes which includes Lightford, businessman Joseph A. Wilson and real estate broker Drena Lanier as trustee candidates. Project manager Steven R. Smiley is the slate’s candidate for clerk.
The sitting clerk, Viola Mims, is running on the My Maywood slate, which comprises mayoral candidate Mary “May” Larry, a village liquor commissioner; and trustee candidates Marcius Scaggs (a former trustee appointed by Yarbrough), Tanya Butler (a sitting Maywood Public Library commissioner) and Sammie Rogers, Jr.
Perkins is supporting a group of independents called the Peoples Choice Party, which includes U.S. military veteran and state employee Kimyada Wellington, businessman and U.S. Air Force veteran Elijah Goodwin and businessman Rolando Villegas. Tamika Commier is the group’s candidate for clerk.
When asked how he thought his chances of victory are this April, Yarbrough expressed confidence.
“I’m very confident,” he said. “It’s not going to be an easy run, though.” VFP
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