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Let’s be very clear – ostensibly, Saturday’s candidate form held at Proviso Baptist Church was just that ; a candidate forum.
Elected officials and their opponents sitting front and center listened to each other talk about themselves. Void from the conversation were the residents. Residents who have become increasingly independent in thought and how they cast their vote.
The press, whose responsibility it is to deliver the discerning questions on behalf of the public, felt ancillary to the format – sort of like a palate cleanser the moderator [Bishop Thomas Clark IV] threw when the questions began to leave a bad taste in the candidate’s mouth. Arguably, Jesus’ proclamation does not follow this same logic – silence the critic. Jesus began his public ministry with a call to justice (Mark 1:15)—turn from injustice and alienation and turn toward truth and life. And in this proclamation, Jesus has special concern for the wellbeing of the vulnerable, the excluded, and oppressed (see Luke’s version of Jesus’ opening words in Luke 4), as does the press. But enough of out Sermon on the Mount. Despite the awkwardness, the press was able to glean the best candidate hopefuls from of the two highly contested Maywood races.
The forum produced all 4 of the candidates in the mayoral race; Edwenna Perkins, incumbent Mayor; Antonette Dorris, sitting Trustee, Henderson Yarbrough, former mayor and sitting Trustee, and Dr. Mary “May” Larry, Liquor Commissioner. While a more democratic-friendly debate on Thursday night will hopefully attract a majority gathering of residents, here’s the WSJ’s analysis of how all the candidates fared. Each candidate’s performance, under the circumstances, is scored from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
Antonette Dorris (5)
Is Dorris the next mayor? The sitting trustee and Executive Director of the Maywood Park District, Antonette Dorris, came out swinging, calm, cool and collected. She articulated r ability to leverage on the job experience to help increase and sustain revenues, relieve tax payers, and implement ideas.
Dorris has surrounded herself with a group of respected and like-minded folks, known as the Maywood Visionary Party, a testament to her organizational and leadership skills; Melvin Lightford, sitting Trustee, Joseph “Joe” Wildon, T&JJ’s Supreme Steaks and Catering, proprietor; Drena Lewis, 35-year resident and political newcomer; and Steve Smiley who is running for village clerk.
“Residents are tired of failed leadership in the village of Maywood resulting in no economic development, estimated water bills, and the lack of adequate public services… I offer Maywood residents a combination of experience, vitality, and the ability to bring elected officials, [village manager] and staff together behind a vigorous new plan to improve Maywood.”
Edwenna Perkins (3)
Incumbent mayor Edwenna Perkins, a well-liked figure for her passion for the community, was especially strong on questions raised by the WSJ about water issues plaguing Maywood residents.
“We’ve pinpointed every leak in the village’s water infrastructure…next we plan to install meters for residents who are without meters… which will save money.”
Dr. Mary “May” Larry (No Rating)
The lack of rating we feel is appropriate, considering that Larry had no particular misstep or little time to speak, maybe 1 minute. But based on her short scripted performance, an audience member who didn’t know any better would be hard pressed to identify her as a front-runner.
“I will focus on the progress in the areas of economic development and public safety to make Maywood more accountable and inclusive.”
Henderson Yarbrough Sr. (1)
Unanimously the biggest loser, Henderson Yarbrough’s performance is given a “1”, the poorest rating, simply because we are not grading on a negative scale.
The former mayor and sitting trustee’s audacious comments left the audience, and the press, aghast. Given Yarbrough’s performance, at age 74, he may want to take his grandiose, self-serving ego and head off to retirement.
Yarbrough fielded questions about one of myriad missteps during his tenure as mayor. Specifically, village attorney’s Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins. The private law firm has billed the village more than $4.5 Mil in legal fees during Yarbough’s stint as mayor and trustee.
According to investigations by the WSJ and Better Government Association, that’s more monies than any municipality in Proviso Township has paid a law firm, including Oak park, Oak Park School District, who fired Klien, Thorpe and Jenkins, and the city of Chicago. Oh, to think how $4 Mil could benefit the tax strapped residents of Maywood!
In unabashed quid-pro-quo fashion, the firm supports handily Henderson and wife, Karen Yarbrough, political ambitions with generous contributions. According to the Illinois Sunshine.org, campaign financial disclosure records show as recent as January 2017 a lump sum $4,500 political donation to Friends of Henderson Yarbrough. That’s a drop in the bucket for Klien, Thorpe and Jenkins when Maywood tax payers hand them a $42,000 check per month. That’s right, $42,000 per month.
When asked by the press if the transfer of tax payer funds to benefit Henderson and friends campaign efforts is a conflict of interest, Yarbrough responded:
“No. I don’t see it as a conflict. I thank god (looking up) for them [Klien, Thorpe, Jenkins]!