EVERGREEN PARK, IL — Kelly Burke is running for mayor of Evergreen Park upon the retirement of long-time Mayor James Sexton in the upcoming April 6 consolidated election. Burke is an Evergreen Park village trustee and an Illinois state representative for the 36th district. She is a 28-year resident of Evergreen Park and an attorney.
EVERGREEN PARK, IL — Kelly Burke is running for mayor of Evergreen Park upon the retirement of long-time Mayor James Sexton in the upcoming April 6 consolidated election. Burke is an Evergreen Park village trustee and an Illinois state representative for the 36th district. She is a 28-year resident of Evergreen Park and an attorney. Early voting in the Cook County suburbs starts March 22.
Your Name: Kelly Burke
Campaign Contact Email: Kellyburke2010@gmail.com
Town/City of Residence: 28-year resident of Evergreen Park; currently reside in the Southeast quadrant. I have lived in 3 of our quadrants. I spent so much time at Aqua as a kid I should be an honorary resident of the Northeast quadrant, which would make me 4 for 4!
Office sought: Mayor
Party Affiliation: Good Government/United Homeowners party
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
None of my children nor my husband work in government. Like many of us, I have relatives who are teachers, police officers, or otherwise work in government.
Education: B.A. in English – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Go Illini!!) and J.D. from John Marshall Law School, Chicago.
Occupation: Attorney since 1992; adjunct professor, Loyola University School of Law
Campaign Website: epunitedhomeowners.org
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office: Evergreen Park trustee and State Representative – 36th District; Evergreen Park Library Board trustee.
The single most pressing issue facing our village and what I intend to do about it.
I’ve spent the last several months talking to hundreds of Evergreen Park residents about their concerns and their vision and suggestions for the future of Evergreen Park. There is not one common issue that comes up. Residents are mostly concerned with their village services (residents gave the village A+ for snow removal!), public safety, health, and having an accessible and transparent leader.
My personal outreach to residents has given me insights into the way younger residents want us to use social media better to keep them informed about things going on in the village. Older residents want assurance that our high level of village services will remain in place and help them stay in the community they’ve loved for so long. Lots of residents are concerned that the mom-and-pop restaurants and bars we have in town may have a tough time surviving and I will look for more ways to help support our hospitality businesses and attract new ones.
Many residents have asked for a greater emphasis on recycling and “green energy” initiatives; I also found a lot of support for stepping up our tree planting. I will keep these along with the many other suggestions I’ve heard and will continue to hear in mind as we prioritize and assess our village services.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post
Experience and proven leadership that has benefitted the residents of Evergreen Park. I have been involved with and represented Evergreen Park for two decades I spent seven years as a trustee on the Evergreen Park Library Board, serving as president during the extensive renovation of the beautiful library building. I have volunteered in Evergreen Park for many years, notably with Most Holy Redeemer Parish, and I started a Mock Trial program for area grade school students.
Working with the village officials and local schools on many projects and initiatives has given me a lot of insight to the needs of the community. Regular community forums and town halls I’ve held have given me a great opportunity to hear what’s on the minds of residents. I sponsored events such as youth basketball tournaments and the popular “Yoga in the Park” classes in the summer.
The relationships I have fostered with our business community through my years of membership in the Evergreen Park Chamber of Commerce provide me with a good grasp of the needs and issues for local business owners.
My contacts in other levels of government are helpful as well. Everyone is well aware of the terrible mail delivery we have had since the fall. Many other neighborhoods and suburbs across the area had similar problems. It was intolerable! By mobilizing Cong. Rush and Sen. Durbin’s staff on this issue and getting their assistance, Mayor Sexton and I were able to get the attention of the post office brass and get additional personnel and carriers dedicated to getting deliveries flowing regularly again. It’s not 100% solved but we will keep working at it.
As trustee, I have helped craft village budgets that are balanced and prioritize the safety and health of our residents. Partnering the village with the OpenLands organization, we pursued a pilot tree planting program funded through grants that we plan on expanding in 2021.
I am proud to have the endorsement of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Many Evergreen Park residents are union members and it was an honor to have their trust and confidence. The relationships and trust with so many village residents and business owners will allow me to best serve Evergreen Park.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
- Business development, especially for our commercial corridors on 95th St. and Western Ave.;
- Support for established businesses emerging from Covid-19 restrictions. The village board recently voted to waive 2021l business licensing fees for those in good standing. The board also approved a limited number of video gaming licenses for bars and restaurants, which could help those establishments recover.
- Greening up Evergreen Park! (see above)
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
See description above.
Why should voters trust you?
I have always represented the residents of Evergreen Park with integrity, accessibility and independence. I have never taken a pension and pledge not to take a pension as Mayor.
I will always be available to talk through any issue with residents and really listen to their concerns. I might not be able to solve every single problem a resident has, but I will listen to residents and work to help.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success
There are so many facets to the Mayor’s job that one single accomplishment can’t define a successful term. I have outlined my priorities and the feedback I’ve had from residents in the prior sections. I will keep Evergreen Park a place where people want to live, have a business, raise their families, and age gracefully with the support of the community.
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the handling of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
Evergreen Park has been fiscally responsible for many years and has an excellent credit rating to show for it. I am a member of the board’s budget committee and have helped craft recent budgets that are balanced and prioritize the health and safety of our residents. We have also been diligent about having a reserve of funds for future projects and unforeseen occurrences.
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
Like so many people, I was saddened and angered by the murder of George Floyd and understand the need of many people, especially young people in our village, to speak out and protest. The local students who organized the Black Lives Matter march in the village in June did an outstanding job. The march was peaceful and was attended by people from all over our village, including me. Mayor Sexton met with the students before the march to hear their concerns, and we made sure that our outstanding police department helped with traffic control to ensure a safe gathering.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
Our village services and programs are designed and reviewed to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all of our residents. Whether it is public safety, recreational or senior services, or the health of our residents, we try to listen to what all of our residents want and then deliver. We are proud of our efforts to be responsive to and inclusive of EVERY village resident.
What are your thoughts on the national and local coronavirus response? Do you favor measures such as limiting operation of non-essential businesses and restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a local mask mandate?
I am proud of the people of Evergreen Park for weathering this pandemic with patience and fortitude. With diligence in taking precautions, helping our older neighbors, wearing masks and practicing social distancing, we have come through the worst of the pandemic in fairly good shape. We unfortunately lost some residents and to those families I send condolences for the loss of your loved one.
The village has been partnering with Cook County to provide COVID-19 testing every Friday for several months. Many of our local physicians also have offered convenient testing. But the arrival of the new vaccines has been nothing short of a miracle. We know there are still supply issues, and we are working with Cook County to make sure we have enough local options as the supply becomes more steady and predictable. But every day we see more and more people getting vaccinated and see light at the end of the tunnel.
What are your thoughts on the state and local coronavirus vaccine distribution, and how do you think local governments should work together to handle vaccine rollout? See above
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?
The best advice ever shared with me was:
- Listen before you speak. God gave you two ears and one mouth; use them proportionally.
- Be kind; you never know what burdens the other person is carrying.
- Especially as an elected official, your words matter.
Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *