With too few candidates, board looks to appointments to fill Morton Grove library vacancies

By Igor Studenkov

For the Bugle

The Morton Grove Public Library Board of Trustees has three vacancies for the April 2017 election – and there is only one person running.

This forces the library to take the unusual step of reaching out to residents to fill the two remaining spots. Applicants must be Morton Grove residents and registered voters. Whoever is chosen will serve until April 2019, when they would have an option of running to keep their seats.

The Morton Grove Library board has seven members, and each serves a six-year term. As with the majority of Illinois libraries, their terms are staggered, so that only two or three of the seven trustees’ terms expire every two years. This year, the terms of Board President Mark Albers and trustees Paul Berg and John Hill expire. Albers is running for the Village of Morton Grove Board of Trustees as part of the Independent Candidates for Morton Grove slate. According to Pam Leffler, the other two incumbents chose not to run for re-election.

The situation is not entirely unprecedented. In 2015, Niles librarian Stephanie Gray found herself running unopposed for the only seat that was up for grabs after incumbent Arthur Goldstein decided not to run and the only other candidate withdrew his nomination.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that, somewhere along the way, the staggering of the terms was thrown off. Under state law, the trustees were supposed to be running in a 2-2-3 pattern, with two trustees running one year, two trustees running two years later and three trustees running two years after that. But, according to Cook County Clerk’s website, there was one open seat in 2015, three in 2013, three running 2011.

Trustee Cathy Peters discovered the problem in 2014. In March 2016, she resigned, saying that she did it so that whoever was chosen to replace her could run for a four-year term in 2017. Hill was appointed as her replacement.

Under the state law, when a trustee seat is filled by appointment, it must go up for grabs at the nearest municipal election. With the appointments taking effect in June, that would be the April 2019 election.

According to the county clerk’s website, Emily Macejak, a sales consultant, is the only candidate running this year. As Leffler explained to this Bugle, this left the board with no choice but to try to fill the remaining two seats by appointment.

Residents wishing to apply must complete a candidate questionnaire and mail it to Leffler. The link to the form is currently available on both the front page of the library website and at the top of the board meetings page. The applications must be turned in by April 10. The board will then review the applications, interview the candidates and make a final decision some time before the June 8 meeting – the first meeting when whoever is selected will begin their service.

As of March 9, only one candidate applied. During the library board, Leffler told the trustees that she may extend the deadline if there isn’t enough interest.

“As of right now, if we find we’re not getting any other interest, I also reserved space in May and June, depending on what response we get,” she told the board.

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