New Niles Party hopes to sharpen government ‘focus’
Niles trustee candidates John Jekot, left, and George Alpogianis attend a Dec. 3 press conference announcing their candidacy. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:57AM
NILES — With a push for change and more accountability, members of the New Niles Party 2013 will be battling against the Responsible Leadership for Niles Party in the upcoming April 2013 election.
The New Niles Party announced its slate of candidates for mayor and trustees during a press conference Dec. 3 at the White Eagle Banquet Hall in Niles.
Current village trustee Andrew Przybylo is running for mayor and his slate vying for three spots on the village board are George Alpogianis, Danette O’Donovan Matyas and John Jekot.
“I think people are misguided right now,” said Alpogianis who, along with the other candidates on the slate, feels there is a great deal of negativity and arguing taking place at the Village Board level. “When our slate wins, I think it will bring focus to the board.”
The Responsible Leadership for Niles Party is composed of current trustee Chris Hanusiak, who is running for mayor; current trustees Louella Preston and Jim Hynes who are running for re-election as trustees; and Mary Marusek, a former Niles Park District commissioner, running for trustee.
Hanusiak said his party will not be making any comments until officially kicking off a campaign in January. A brief press release issued by the slate stated, “There are no hidden agendas, only a desire to increase the participation of Niles residents in the governance of their community.”
Members of the New Niles Party feel that there is too much chaos on the current Niles Village Board and believe some trustees are making decisions based on personal opinions.
Przybylo, co-owner of White Eagle Banquets and secretary of the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals, said that if he is mayor he will create a metric so that village department heads and their staff will be evaluated based on their performance.
Jekot added: “I know any decision I make will be based on facts and figures.”
Other goals of the New Niles Party are to improve the mothballed animal-control service, make the Niles Free Bus more widely used, enact a new zoning ordinance and establish six standing committees for the Village Board in order to give trustees “true responsibilities.”
Przybylo also proposed “Skype Nights” at the Niles Public Library where citizens could speak live with residents of Niles’ sister cities without having to leave the village.
Przybylo also hopes to see trustees who are vested in the community. Alpogianis added that he would like to see more women serving on the Village Board and on other village committees. Both men also mentioned a desire to see governmental bodies reflect the community’s ethnic diversity.
“I think everyone needs to be represented properly,” said Alpogianis.
During the Dec. 3 press conference the candidates were asked if they felt it would be a challenge to manage their current busy lives and additional obligations if elected.
“I fully plan to change my lifestyle,” Przybylo said. If elected he will reduce the number of hours he puts in at the White Eagle, he said, explaining that he currently works there about 20 hours per week.
Alpogianis, owner of Kappy’s Restaurant in Morton Grove, said that though he spends a lot of time at this business, he is prepared to make any necessary changes.
Two of the candidates also currently serve on other boards. Matyas is a member of the Niles Library Board of Trustees and Jekot is a member of the East Maine School District 63 Board of Education.
Neither candidate saw an issue with serving simultaneously on two boards, but legally they may not be able to do so.
According to Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel with the Illinois State Board of Elections, an Illinois Attorney General opinion states that village trustees cannot simultaneously hold an elected position to a school board.
Menzel was unable to say if the same applies for village trustees who are also members of elected library boards. A list of 10 “incompatible” office pairings established by the Attorney General’s ruling does not mention library trustee.