Oak Park Village CLERK (1 open seat)

Elia Gallegos | Lori Malinski | James Robinson-Parran | Vicki Scaman | Mas Takiguchi

lori malinski



What motivates you to seek this office? How have you participated in public service in the past? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the board, and why would those contributions be valuable to the Village of Oak Park?

Most of my career has been in the social impact/nonprofit sector. I'm very interested in local government as a way to think globally and act locally, especially in these times. I'm passionate about public service and passionate about Oak Park. My experience and background bring value and ease of transition to the office of Village Clerk. My nonprofit experience spans 30 years at large and small organizations, at every level-fundraising, special events, board relations and governance, strategic planning, budgeting, volunteer recruitment. I was business association liaison for the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation for 9 years, working with our 12 business districts but primarily North Avenue and Roosevelt Road.  In 2003, I helped kick start the redevelopment on Roosevelt Road. I maintain those relationships as Vice President of the North Avenue Business Association, as a participant in the Business Association Council, and as a member of the OPRF Chamber of Commerce. With my husband, I'm a homeowner, with sophomore son at OPRF. I was an active room parent at Mann, a member of Julian's CAST Theater Program Council. All of this motivates me to move on to the next level of public service that is the Village Clerk.

Would you describe yourself as an agent of social change? Why or why not?

Yes, I've spent most of my career in the social impact (nonprofit) sector, raising funds and awareness on behalf of a variety of constituents - Alzheimer's disease, law-related projects, HIV/AIDS services, homelessness, hunger, domestic violence and developmental disabilities. All with the mission that these constituent's lives are changed by increased funding and public awareness.
Oak Park has a long history of racial and ethnic as well as economic diversity. How would you engage marginalized communities in the political process? How can we maintain economic diversity in the Village with rising real estate prices and taxes?

In my capacity as Clerk, I can only answer the first part. As Clerk, I intend to be accessible to our community. I'd like to work with staff on a survey on what Oak Parkers want from t heir community, from their elected officials, and also how best to reach each constituent.  Proper communication is the key to engagement. We need to recognize that not everyone is on social media, not everyone has a smart phone or access to a computer or email.

With shifting values at the national level, what role do you see for the Village in helping provide access to critical services such as healthcare or housing support? How would you approach a loss of funding from the Community Development Block Grant program?

I believe this is more appropriate for trustees; however, I will tell you that as the director of development for a local nonprofit, the loss of CDBG funding could be devastating. Those grants provide housing and facilities maintenance for low to no income individuals, and people with disabilities.

Oak Park recently passed a strong Welcoming Village Ordinance clarifying the relationship between Oak Park officials and federal immigration authorities. What else can we do to provide protections for residents? How far should the Village go in responding to injustices at the federal level that reach into our community?

Again, this is more a trustee question, but as Clerk, I believe part of the role is being in the community, getting to know constituents and their concerns, and bringing that information to staff and elected officials with the expectation of developing solutions.

Do you support the Albion development? What responsibility does the Village have to obtain public input on this project and similar requests for significant zoning variances?

I'm open to hearing more detail from the developers about their plans. They aren't asking for any funding from the Village, the development will bring tax-paying citizens to Oak Park. The density in Downtown Oak Park is concerning, as well as the possibility this will have an impact on the environment at Austin Gardens. Perhaps this is the time to consider development in other areas, such as North Avenue and Roosevelt Road. I believe that with the Open Meetings Act and our current process, the public has ample opportunity for input.

Please describe how environmental stewardship been a value in your own life. How do you envision bringing that perspective to your service with the Village?

We recycle everything that we can and we've installed energy efficient HVAC systems. The Clerk's office is a great opportunity to be a point of contact to citizens for referrals on where to go within Village Hall for questions on recycling and other environmental concerns, as well as a host of other common questions. Again, communication is one of my primary concerns. I plan to have easily accessible print and online/social media information about common concerns/questions, including environmental stewardship.

Violence is a significant problem in neighboring areas and has taken its toll on our community as well. What should the Village do to improve public safety? How can Oak Park work with neighboring communities to support their efforts?

Improving public safety as a big picture issue is more of a board issue.  As Clerk, I plan to network with neighboring community groups and attend their equivalent to our zone meetings. I see this as part of the Clerk's role, to be able to be a liaison, and to bring information back to staff, the police department, and the Village board.

Recent years have seen primarily multi-family and retail developments coming to Oak Park. What ideas do you have for bringing more commercial development to the Village? Would you consider funding an incubator for tech start-ups? How can the Village attract and support entrepreneurs?

North Avenue, Madison and Roosevelt Road are ripe for commercial development. I've heard several board members mention this might be a good timeto re-consider a TIF for Roosevelt Road; Berwyn has excelled there because it's a TIF district. I believe that should the funding be available, the Village should work with OPEDC on more incentives for entrepreneurs.

Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.

I've reached out to our campaign treasurer and will forward that information as soon as I can.