High Taxes, Water Bills Top Of Mind For Maywood Trustee Candidates

Friday, November 30, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Nathaniel George Booker — one of at least nine candidates running for village trustee in the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election — at his campaign kickoff event on Nov. 30 in Maywood. | Courtesy Nathaniel George Booker  

We’ve identified at least nine candidates — two political parties, one slate of nonpartisan candidates and an independent — who plan on running for three open seats on the Maywood Board of Trustees during next year’s election.

Sitting Trustees Isiah Brandon, Ron Rivers and Henderson Yarbrough are up for reelection. Yarbrough has announced that he will not seek reelection while Brandon is running aligned with two first-term candidates in the People’s Choice Party. Rivers has not yet announced his plans.

So far, two political parties — the My Maywood Party and the Maywood Visionary Party — have formally submitted nominating petitions to be on the ballot in the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election.

According to the Cook County Clerk’s office, the candidate filing period for established political party candidates and nonpartisan candidates was from Nov. 19 through Nov. 26.

The My Maywood Party includes Mary “May” Larry, a liquor commissioner who has run for trustee and mayor in the past; her son, Nathan Lee, who runs the local nonprofit Nate Comic, Inc.; and Wanda J. Evans-Brewer, an adjunct professor at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest.

The Maywood Visionary Party  includes former trustee Antonette Dorris, who ran for mayor in 2017; and Steven R. Smiley, a Maywood liquor commissioner.

Brandon’s People’s Choice Party includes Miguel Jones, a commissioner on Maywood’s zoning board; and realtor Eileen Olivier, a longtime Maywood resident who is a member of the District 89 Parent Advisory Council.

Maywood Economic Development Commissioner Nathaniel George Booker, who held an official kickoff party for his campaign on Nov. 30, is so far the only independent candidate in the race.

In recent interviews and statements, virtually all of the candidates referenced the village’s high property taxes, what many described as its stagnant business climate and the challenges confronting the village’s aging water system.

“The taxes are high and people can’t afford to pay their water bill,” Larry said. “We need people who are ready.”

In a handout identifying its campaign platform, the My Maywood slate proposes to build “public/private partnerships and relations, create “business opportunities to lower taxes” and to protect “residents from the over pricing/cost of their water rates,” among other proposals.

Dorris and Smiley, who both ran on the Maywood Vision Party ticket last year, said that they’re not running three people on their ticket this year, but are currently in the process of developing other candidates to run down the line.

“MVP is a movement,” Dorris said, adding that the slate’s emphasis during this most recent election cycle will be on developing strategies to ease the burden of local taxpayers.

“Everything is on the back of taxpayers, but when you look at the services, you still don’t get anything,” said Dorris, who was once executive assistant to former Maywood mayor Henderson Yarbrough

“So many people have been calling me about the runaround they get to do simple processes,” she said. “I was working for the village at a time when processes and procedures actually worked. We’ve lost all of that.”

Smiley said that he and Dorris “are willing to work with everyone” in order to enhance basic services for residents. Smiley also referenced the need for more collaboration and communication between departments, agencies and community entities.

Smiley also referenced a series of investigative articles published last year in the Chicago Tribune that laid out Maywood’s water woes. Smiley, a buildings and grounds supervisor with the Maywood Park District, was interviewed for one article.

“Water rates in Maywood are among the highest in the Chicago region, in part to pay for the 38 percent of water the village loses before it ever reaches the taps of residents like Hylton,” the Tribune reported.

Smiley and Dorris said that, in addition to targeting solutions to the village’s infrastructure, they’ll also advocate for the creation of a strategic plan that will guide how the village can go about luring more small businesses into town.

Booker, who is supported by Cook County Clerk and Proviso Township Democratic Party Chairman Karen Yarbrough, framed his candidacy in the context of his position as a homeowner in the village.

“I have a home that I’ve invested a great deal in,” he said during the Nov. 30 kickoff event, held at Mariella’s Banquet Hall in Maywood.

Booker said that within a span of fewer than two years, his property taxes have increased by more than $1,500. He also cited being charged “an extra $100 for my water bill for so long” and “fighting with different [village departments]” about the increase.

“And when you’re doing renovations to your house and you’re like, ‘Why is there so much red tape for me to make this place look better?'” Booker mused. “You begin to think, ‘If not you, then who?'”

Booker also cited one of the many media stories about the village’s water challenges, including the high rate of water loss that takes place in Maywood due to aging pipes, water main breaks and other infrastructure issues.

“Who saw that we are one of the highest taxed communities in Proviso Township?” Booker added. “Those are the types of things I would like to address.”

Brandon and his fellow People’s Choice running mates explained in a statement on their campaign website that they would “focus on lowering our property tax rate while maintaining and improving village programs, services, and facilities.”

Although she technically ran as a nonpartisan in 2017, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins ran for reelection in alliance with the People’s Choice slate. Perkins said on Dec. 5 that she plans on supporting the slate in April, as well.

According to Village Clerk Viola Mims, new political parties and independent candidates looking to run in April have from Dec. 10 until Dec. 17 to file nominating petitions. Monday, Dec. 24, is the last day to file objections to those nominating petitions.

After the My Maywood and Maywood Visionary Party slates filed petitions with the clerk’s office last month, there was some confusion as to whether or not the two parties would face off in a primary election on February, 26, 2019.

An official with the village clerk’s office, however, said that Maywood does not have primary elections, despite the fact that the two established parties filed in November. VFP 

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