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Caucus Trustees to Face Strong Contenders This April

Brian Novak and Lisa Lipin are both running as independents for trustee positions in the Village of Skokie this April. The Caucus Party has held all six trustee seats for more than 50 years and haven't faced an independent-opponent since 1993.

The Caucus Party has held the six trustee positions in the village for more than half a century.

David Gleicher and Michael Rosenberg were the last independents who ran for trustee. That was in 1993 and both of them lost.

Almost two decades later, however, two new independents will be trying to change village history and be the first non Caucus Party elected trustee in more than 50 years.

Lisa Lipin and Brian Novak are both Skokie residents known for being active in the community. On Lipin's end, she founded and currently chairs Skokie Voice, a grassroots organization aimed at improving communication between the village and residents. Meanwhile, Novak is currently a board member of Skokie School District 73.5 and sits on the village's Consumer Affairs Committee. There will be six vacant seats come April, and both Lipin and Novak are hopeful to win out those spots.

"Skokie is evolving, changing," said Novak, 38. "The evolution equals the need for fresh perspective."

Novak said he grew up in Roger's Park and moved to Skokie about eight years ago.

"I don't feel like I'm running against the Caucus Party," he said "It's not in my best interest to act that way. There's room for fresh perspective, room for change."

When Patch asked Novak what he thinks Skokie's short term goals should be he said: "Short term, we need to enforce existing ordinances. And maybe we're not enforcing those ordinances enough. [Second,] sticking with public safety perception."

In the end, Novak said he simply wants to offer a fresh perspective to the village and represent the everyday citizen.

"For far too long the people of our community have not had a choice for their trustee representative. My wife, Cyndy, and I chose Skokie because of its richly diverse population, commitment to excellence in education and fantastic location," Novak said.  "We have been active in the community and want to ensure everyone has a voice in fulfilling our village’s goal – to be a village of vision.  I will offer a fresh perspective for our evolving community – for the 21st century and beyond."

Lipin agrees Skokie residents need a choice come April. While she's been a member of the Caucus Party for several years, Lipin was screened prior to announcing her run for trustee. In the end, she decided to run as an independent.

"I screened with them. It was just like a job interview," Lipin said. “I see myself as a true advocate for people and after serving the community for years in a variety of positions I’ve decided to bring my advocacy work as an elected official.

“I feel that running independently is the best way for the people of Skokie to have a choice.".

Skokie Patch reached out several times to the Caucus Party for interviews, but did not get a response. The following will be running for trustee under the Caucus Party this April: Michele Bromberg, Randy Roberts, Edie Sue Sutker (all incumbents) and newcomers Karen Gray-Keeler, Ralph Klein and Ilonka Ulrich.

Gray-Keeler is filling the unexpired term of former Village Trustee Michael Lorge. Lorge resigned  several months ago and now serves as the Village’s Corporation Counsel.

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Skokie Patch on Facebook 

Hank December 12, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Make no mistake I am not against him as a candidate I just do not agree with his approach on this issue. If he stated that he plans to enforce the existing ordnances it certainly sounds like he’s in the dark. The statement did not mention anything about reviewing them or changing them, just blindly enforcing them. This means yes, the lower speed limits will be enforced to ensure our safety. People love to hide behind the word “safe”. Does safe mean we need more traffic light cameras or speed cameras? We are told this is a way to enforce “safe” driving. Now you’re expecting me to believe that enforcing other ordnances will make Skokie a safer place. Does that mean we are not safe now? How safe to we need to be? When ever I hear a politician use the word safe telling me they are protecting the public I know their actions are motivated by another reason and safety has nothing to do with it. Skokie writes plenty of traffic tickets. Skokie has 6 pages listed on the National speed trap web site speedtrap.org http://www.speedtrap.org/city/3343/Skokie&page=1 Writing tickets and imposing fines does not make Skokie a safer place to live in it just makes people want to move out or avoid the area. I do not agree with the new building ordnances you mention, I think we have way too many ordnances now, but again we are suppose to believe those new ordnances are to provide a “safer” environment for all of us.
George Slefo (Editor) December 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
@ Katie - Thank you for the background! I've updated the article to reflect your comment and plan on adding more later this afternoon (currently out in field). Best, George
Cindy Gonzalez Latin December 12, 2012 at 05:10 PM
The Vilage Board of Trustees needs a new prospective. We need leadership that listens and has a good grasp of what is important to their constituency. I will be voting for independent candidates.
Skokiegal December 12, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Katie I went on Brian's website at the suggestion of Jackie and was quite surprised to see that you are Brian's contact person/campaign manager. You really should have disclosed that in your comments if you wanted to be totally transparent.
Katie Gudgel December 12, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Yes, I am Brian's campaign manager - and I am sorry if anyone felt that by not disclosing it I was misleading or not being transparent. I have also modified my general Skokie Patch profile to indicate my position so that anyone can see my affiliation. I have also specifically listed both my first and last names for disclosure, so that people know who I am in "real-life".
Jackie December 12, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Hi, in the spirit of full disclosure, I want you to know am also a Novak for Skokie campaign volunteer. I don't believe that diminishes the comments that I (or anyone else) have left here. Brian's vision of Skokie is aligned with my own. For that reason, I give of my time to support his campaign. His website www.novakforskokie.com gives an accurate account of his views. I hope you find it helpful.
Sarah December 12, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I am not a champaign manager or volunteer and as I stated I am not voting for Brian even if I could vote for more than one person. He has not done anything for the community and he really is not a friendly person until he wants something. And right now he wants your vote. So Katie find another venue to do your campaigning.
Schoolmarm December 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM
I think the ideas of offering a fresh perspective and of representing " the everyday citizen" are marvelous, and couldn't agree more with Mr. Novak's website that Skokie has changed over the years. I think the same is true of District 73.5. Its demographic and programs have changed since the start of the 21st century. It could certainly use a fresh perspective to go along with the changes. On April 10, 2012, the 73.5 Board of Education was faced with a situation where, according to Mr. Novak, a teacher behaved " in a certain manner " which meant that teacher " should not be allowed to remain" in the district. Mr. Novak also noted that the teacher's "judgment is shown to be impaired and continues year after year." This provided a great opportunity for Mr. Novak to stand up for the "everyday" citizens/students of District 73.5 and make a statement that he, as a Board member, would help them get needed change and fresh perspective. He could have helped provide an impetus for a personnel change to eliminate those in District 73.5 who have proven themselves to show the same impaired judgment year after year.The Board chose to keep the teacher. Mr. Novak could have stood up for the rights of the students to schools where good judgment is exercised. He could have. He could have gone on record as truly wanting positive change and voted not to retain the teacher on principle. He could have. But he abstained.
Vicki December 13, 2012 at 01:34 AM
I would disagree with you Sarah. I can tell you first hand that he had a lot to do with chosing a new vendor for our childrens' lunches. He has been very committed to the school board but unfortunately hasn't always had a ton of support. If there are 6 seats available I hope both of them get voted in.
Vicki December 13, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Brian would be a fresh new face in our current Village government that is very outdated. Brian has been very involved in our community and we desperately need change. Brian we wish you lots of luck, you have our vote!!!!!!
Vicki December 13, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Sarah, I don't think you know Brian personally. Maybe you should take a peek at the work he has done instead of attacking his personality. He is a great guy who is devoted to his community and has been involved for many years to try to make changes.
Sarah December 13, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I am not attacking his personality I'm just stating a fact.
Sarah December 13, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Vicki your comment " I can tell you first hand that he had a lot to do with chosing a new vendor for our childrens' lunches" is true that Brian Novak was on the bidding committee along with Charlene Abraham, Cindy Cohen, and Kate Donegan. The need for the committee was formed after parents wrote letters to the board asking for a change.
Mandy December 13, 2012 at 03:45 AM
I have been a teacher for English Language Learners in Skokie District 73.5 for the past 13 years and I know first hand about the tireless work, dedication, commitment, passion, compassion and authenticity of Brian Novak's to represent all people in Skokie. When he found out I needed some parent support and volunteers in my classroom but was not able to obtain any, he was the first person to sign up for the job. He came in once a week for the entire school year and was down in the trenches with me. He did not do this for his own children or for publicity, he did this because he truly cared about the well being and education of my students who needed an advocate like him. This was not a one time deal either. The following year, he and his wife continued to come into my classroom on a consistent basis to provide real-life experiential learning for my students. They used their own finances, skills and talents to enrich the education and lives of my students. He talks the talk and walks the walk and I know he would work whole-heartedly on behalf of the residents in Skokie.
Vicki December 13, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Sarah, I am sorry I must have misunderstood "he really is not a friendly person until he wants something. And right now he wants your vote" as a personal attack. Not to take away from anyone on that committee as I know how dedicated Charlene, Kate, and Cindy are. I also know how much he has volunteered his time and never expected anything in return. He is constantly volunteering his time for school events. Along with Cyndy, his wife, he is constantly giving his time even after thier children moved on to a different school. Let's look at the track record instead of his personality on the playground.
Vicki December 13, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Exactly Mandy, terrific family. I completely agree with you :)
Tina McCann December 13, 2012 at 05:30 AM
.... reading to the kids, being involved in school events, devotes his time (no different than any other parent). Comments ...for many years tries to make changes and Hasn't always had a ton of support. Sounds like the trustee position might be too much for him to handle. We need a person who can lead and make the changes everyone here is talking about. Thats person to me is Lisa who has the leadership not only in the community but the world, when she tackled a toy company and won.
Brian Hickey December 13, 2012 at 01:12 PM
One thing is clear....the residents of Skokie are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Talk to your friends and neighbors and get them registered to vote. Then encourage them to follow through come the April elections. Apathy and discouragement are the enemies of us all. Clearly there is a tsunami of resentment towards a slow moving and out of touch village government and management. Isn't it time the for the very richly compensated Al Rigoni retire and enjoy his handsome pension and all the other wonderful benefits he receives as a government employee? Most highly compensated Illinois state village manager in calendar year 2010, in the midst of the current hobbled national economy. Things don't look so bad from Al's kitchen sink window. Skokie local politics are as dirty as anything at the national level. Plenty of back room maneuvering. It seems to have generated epic levels of discontent amongst village residents. Go vote. Make things change!! The mayor and his minions would prefer we all just shut up and pay the new taxes they cook up quietly. It's one thing for the village government to say they give a damn and another to actually back that up with improved performance and provision of better village services. They only thing current village management seems committed to is full employment of village employees. It's high time fat got trimmed and performance increased. Nothing increases work efforts like trimming away the slackers.
Brian Hickey December 13, 2012 at 01:39 PM
You have to wonder who "Schoolmarm" and "Skokiegal" are. Outspoken, but hiding behind pseudonyms. You have to pray the "Marm" isn't a really a school teacher. Oops I forgot...no more praying...at least not in the schools. But a moment of silence perhaps? We are OK with "Shut Up". Is it that she doesn't understand the concept of a paragraph, or hasn't mastered the computer? Most likely a teacher though....that would help explain district 219's overcompensated teachers and under performing students. They must need more money. They ALWAYS need more money. For more than 30 years now. And still, student performance continues to decline. A 60% competency rating among 219 graduates. Now that's performance you can stand behind. You sure wouldn't want to stand in front of it. And the unforgettable words or 219 board president Robert Silverman referring to tax increases ..." I don't want to leave any money on the table ". I can see why. There are actually fewer and fewer tables in Skokie as we "enjoy" the highest or close to the highest foreclosure rate of any Chicago suburb. See the March 30th Chicago Tribune story titled "Schools Stockpiling Cash" . Three specific Skokie school districts were cited in this city and suburban wide analysis. Good to know that reord spending by our schools in harsh economic times doesn't hurt your typical property owner and ratchet up his property taxes. Ya know, I think Niles West needs a new $15 MILLION dollar pool too.
Brian Hickey December 13, 2012 at 01:42 PM
After all, we don't want fragile teen egos suffering "Pool Envy". Move along folks....there's nothing to see here. Just move along. Remind me, how did Illinois get it's sparkling reputation?
Mandy December 13, 2012 at 02:41 PM
In my experience, it is easy for parents to volunteer and help out once in awhile for their own child's class but I have never encountered any parent who gave of their time and dedicated themselves to students who they had no personal connection to until I met Brian. Also, Brian's support went well beyond "reading to the kids and participating in school events". He was a true advocate for my students, their families and my program. He worked diligently to support parents who had limited English and were new immigrants to the states. He also worked tirelessly to provide additional supports and resources for the students including technologies that could be used to enhance their learning. This is actually only one example of how I've witnessed Brian actually working for the betterment of his community and the people in it.
Vicki December 13, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I would argue that he is different than any other parent. He goes above and beyond, not just for his kids but the kids of those who can't be involved. Not to take anything away from Lisa, I respect Skokie Voice and have attended several meetings. The point is we need new faces in Skokie government and if I am able to I will vote for both Brian and Lisa.
Schoolmarm December 13, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I would like to suggest that you put word out in the community that you are looking for volunteers. In my experience, many people want to get involved with the schools, and would be happy to invest their time, but they need to feel like they are welcome to do so.
Schoolmarm December 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM
It does seem as though there is general agreement that change is desired. Change, however, doesn't just mean different names and different faces. Change has to include the courage to make actual changes.
Schoolmarm December 13, 2012 at 04:32 PM
District 73.5 has also failed to make AYP if that' s your concern with underperforming students.
Vicki December 13, 2012 at 05:29 PM
From what I have seen these "different faces" would be terrific......
Brian Novak December 13, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I appreciate everyone taking the time to read the article and submit comments. I would like you all to know that I am listening. I am extremely proud of the work I have done with the 73.5 School Board (as Secretary), District 807 - NTDSE (as president), the PTA, as a Commissioner on the Consumer Affairs Commission, Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Task Force, Skokie's home delivered meals program, and all of the other local organizations I have been a part of since I arrived in Skokie. For those of you who do not know me but would like to learn more, you can either visit my website, www.novakforskokie.com, or attend a meet-and-greet coffee. There have been and will continue to be many opportunities to meet me in person - the dates will be posted on the web-site or you can join the mailing list so that you will be notified. As Skokie residents we are all invested in the community and should be part of the conversation - I strongly encourage you to exercise your right to vote on April 9th.
Schoolmarm December 13, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I, too, like new things, but what I really like is substance, by which I mean "track record."
Tina McCann December 14, 2012 at 03:34 PM
My thoughts exactly we need someone who can make the changes and get the job done. Lets go Lisa!!!!!
Susan Donian February 01, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Agreed Katie! I think Brian Novak and Lisa Lipin are both excellent candidates and deserve to win. For the sake of the Village of Skokie and all of our wonderful friends in this town, I sincerely hope these two win and am personally wishing them the best of luck, they are exactly the positive change Skokie so desperately needs NOW!

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