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Economic development, teamwork top priorities for Thompson

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Mayor Katrina Thompson (pictured center) became the first woman and African American woman, elected mayor, April 4th, by the Village of Broadview.

By KEVIN BEESE

BROADVIEW |  Catching a ride back from the city landed Katrina Thompson in the Broadview mayor’s seat.  As a Broadview Library trustee, Thompson headed to Cook County Chancery Court for the institution’s lawsuit against the village for holding up permits for the library’s remodeling effort. Being a winter afternoon and darkness already setting in, Thompson asked the village attorney and then-Mayor Sherman Jones for a ride back to Broadview instead of taking the train.

“I am dozing off in the back seat and the mayor asks at one point if I’d be interested in running for mayor,” Thompson said. “I told him I wasn’t interested.”

Jones, who had served eight years as mayor, was restricted from running again this spring because of village-imposed term limits. He would ask Thompson about the possibility of her running another three times over the next few days. Each time she gave the proposal more thought.  After the third time, she talked with her daughter about the possibility.

“I talked to my daughter to get her input and she gave it her blessing,” Thompson said. “She was supportive of the idea. If she hadn’t supported it, I wouldn’t have run.”

Thompson headed the Broadview People Party’s slate this spring, with Jones running as a trustee, and easily won a five-person race for mayor, more than doubling the vote total of her nearest competitor.  As the first African-American woman to be mayor of the community, Thompson said she feels some pressure to perform. One of her plans is to have an open-door policy for staff and residents.

“The staff and community are invited to come in and knock on the door,” she said. “I am going to be accessible.”

Thompson said she opted to be a full-time mayor, stepping away from her position as executive director of the West Humboldt Park Development Council, at a pay cut. She feels it is important for her to be hands on in order to get accomplished what she wants.  Two top immediate priorities for her are instituting more economic development programs and getting the village’s website up and running.

“We need to get that done,” Thompson said of the website. “We are going to try to get that done in the next 60 days.”

She said the village website is a key marketing tool for the community and one that needs to be addressed – pronto.

Although Thompson had to be the tie-breaking vote last week when the village changed its law firm and got rid of separate counsel being used by the village trustees in the majority for legislative issues, the mayor said she wants to work with everyone on the board.

“I am open to their ideas,” Thompson said of trustees with the Better Broadview Party, who, this election, went from the board majority to board minority.

“I want our group to work as a team.”

Thompson said she has not yet determined whether she will keep her seat on the Library Board.

“The library and village are in a lawsuit. There is division,” Thompson said. “I am not sure about serving on both.”

Thompson also serves on the Financial Oversight Panel for Proviso Township High School District 209, a post she would like to keep.

Thompson said being cast in the spotlight as Broadview’s mayor is not something that comes naturally to her.

“I am a very humble person,” Thompson said. “… Faith is also very important to me. That is something I will compromise on, my faith.”

The mayor said she wants to get business events going in the community and plans to have a town hall meeting for residents June 3 with Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, both of whom supported her candidacy.  She also wants to have a Village Board retreat, possible this fall, where strategic planning will be conducted.

“We want a board that is going to benefit restaurants, benefit businesses, benefit residents,” Thompson said.  Commenting on the board’s current divisive nature, Thompson said, “I think we will be fine.”

 

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