Elmwood Park candidate declares his independence
Sam LaBarbera ran as an independent for re-election to the Elmwood Park Village Board, where he served for 24 years. | Provided
Occupation: Administrative law judge for Illinois Department of Employment Security
Lived in Elmwood Park: 50 years
Marital status: Single
Children: Karina, 21, Sammy, 19, Nicholas, 17 and Wally, 15
Interests: “I like to work. I have four kids and two in college.”
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:12AM
ELMWOOD PARK —Sam LaBarbera has served 24 years as a trustee on the Elmwood Park Village Board, and he says he’s not done yet.
Re-electing him, LaBarbera believes, will continue to keep the board on course.
LaBarbera is running as an independent, not on the slate of either the Voice Party of Elmwood Park or the People’s Choice Party.
He believes his experience has been overlooked by the board in not appointing him deputy village president although he’s been on the board the longest.
Nor was he recruited by either Voice or People’s Choice.
But he believes his experience as a trustee is still valuable, needed and would be an asset to the village board and harnessing a political climate that needs structure.
He said people he’s talked to in the village aren’t sure who the candidates are.
That may be due to the shifts in candidates and slating that took place between the People’s Choice Party and Elmwood Park Voice Party.
Elmwood Park Village President Peter Silvestri established a slate called the Unity Party of Elmwood Park, but then decided not to run for re-election.
After his decision, only one member of his slate, Jeff Sargent, was slated to run by the People’s Choice Party. No one else from that slate is still seeking office.
Those shuffles may have led to ill feelings between the two parties, but LaBarbera said he is well positioned to get along with whichever side wins.
“My track record has shown with different administrators and board members that I can work with them,” said LaBarbera. “It is a tough race and being on the board for such a long time, I think I’ve established a great deal of credibility and trust with the constituency.”
And whatever divisions exist now, LaBarbera hopes those differences will be put aside after the election.
“I think that I offer a symbol and position of experience and hope to guide the board in a new, positive and constructive direction,” he said. “No other (newly elected) candidate will have served on the Elmwood Park Village Board except for Jeff Sargent and he’s only been on for seven years.”
He also says that running as an independent shows that he’s an independent thinker.
“It’s consistent with what I’ve been saying all along about my candidacy,” he said. “This should indicate that I am independent and I cannot be controlled.”
If re-elected he wants to make sure the board moves in a proactive direction to keep the village an attractive and stable community. “I’d like to continue on the course of stabilizing the community and maintaining the housing stock and maintaining the schools as much as we can,” he said.
“I have lived here since 1963 and I still have a lot of relatives and friends in this town and my heart is in the community,” he said. “I’m not up there for any prestige. I want to work to offer my background to uplift this community.”
LaBarbera is confident he will be re-elected, but if he does win, that will mean dealing with board members who had run as part of slate.
That could cause conflict, but LaBarbera believes his experience can help bring about cohesiveness.
“Whoever gets elected are going to have to learn how to work with everyone else and how the board operates,” he said. “How it affects the community at large, that will remain to be seen.”
“There may be some dissension on the (new) board, but hopefully with my background I can bring these people together and act as an arbitrator and put it all together,” he said.