Highland Park City Council candidates commit to clean race
Updated: February 28, 2013 9:20AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Voters aren’t likely to see any mudslinging in the high-grounded race for the Highland Park City Council.
The six contenders vying for three open seats are running on their own civic records and the perspectives they would bring to the council.
Here, in alphabetical order, are brief sketches of the six candidates running in the April 9 election. Early voting starts March 25.
When Carolyn Cerf says, “This city is my life,” she offers examples to back it up. A lifelong resident, Cerf long has been active in organizations like the Rotary Club of Highland Park, the League of Women Voters and the Ravinia Neighbors Association, to name a few. She speaks with pride about founding the Ravinia Block Bash, now in its third year.
“I think it’s a great example of how citizens and our city can step up to stimulate our economy and help businesses,” said Cerf, who vows to advocate on behalf of all nine business districts in the city.
Cerf, who is making her second run for the council, also is a member of the Community Emergency response Team, a corps of civilian volunteers trained in disaster preparedness to support first responders. She’s also an active volunteer for Community Partners for Affordable Housing, motivated by her own childhood experience with affordable housing needs.
She works in government relations at Walgreens, where her job is to ensure compliance with ethics laws and disclosure requirements.
Bob Crimo admittedly hasn’t done much research into City Council issues yet, but he believes his regular interactions with people give him a grass-roots understanding of residents’ concerns.
He’s a lifelong resident who owned the White Hen Pantry in the Ravinia Business District for many years. He now owns Bob’s Pantry and Deli in the Braeside district.
“With literally millions of face-to-face interactions with the people of the Highland Park community, I have my hand on the pulse of the city,” he said. “Actively listening to people is a strong character trait of mine.”
If elected to the council, he said he will place a high priority on retaining and improving the vibrancy of the downtown and Ravinia business districts. He said he sees the need for more late-night venues from the number of people who come into his store up until closing at 2 a.m. He also expressed a desire to find ways for the city to live within its financial means without sacrificing vital municipal services; and promoting a culture of transparency.
William Dytrych spent nearly a decade on the Highland Park Plan Commission, working on proposals that eventually went before the city council.
“I see my service on the City Council as an extension of the work I have enjoyed doing the past (nine and a half) years,” said Dytrych, who previously served on a citizen’s advisory board during the formation of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County and the Fort Sheridan Restoration Advisory Board.
Dytrych currently works as a contract officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and also teaches an earth science class as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Lake County. He previously worked in commercial real estate investment for a prominent Chicago firm and has negotiated complex Tax Increment Financing agreements.
He holds a doctorate in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago.
Attorney Daniel Kaufman first appeared before the Highland Park City Council to advocate for a bike path as president of Northwood Junior High School. It proved to be good practice for some “stand-up” comedy later in life, and a distinguished legal career that has earned him a host of honors, including an Excellence in Pro Bono Service from the Judges in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Kaufman is the only incumbent in the six-candidate field, having been appointed by Mayor Nancy Rotering in mid-2012 to the seat she previously held on the council. As a member and past chair of the city’s Housing Commission, he was one of the architects of the Highland Park Affordable Housing Plan.
He also served two terms on the Human Relations Commission, among many involvements in the Chicago area.
He holds a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.
Alyssa Knobel is running what appears to be a well-oiled campaign that reflects months of groundwork, at least to May of last year when she announced an exploratory committee.
As chair of the city’s Business and Economic Development Commission, she’s helped create an Economic Strategic Development Plan for the city and instituted a reporting mechanism for prioritizing and tracking projects through completion. She also established a bi-weekly Economic Development newsletter.
“Gathering consensus and creating solutions with clarity of purpose is what I do every day and what I will bring to City Hall,” she says in a campaign piece.
Knobel previously worked as an aide to former state Rep. Karen May and managed Mayor Nancy Rotering’s 2011 campaign.
She’s also served on the District 112 Strategic Plan Curriculum Committee and been a League of Women Voters observer for both the city and schools, among her many involvements.
Every since announcing her candidacy, Kim Stone vowed to be a strong voice for the environment in the tradition of longtime council member Steven Mandel, who has moved on to the Lake County Board.
Stone says her 20 years of experience managing nonprofit organizations also will be useful on the council.
“The link there is that I really learned how to allocate tight resources to critical needs,” said Stone.
She has worked for the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Great Lakes Protection Fund and the Safe Pest Control Project, among others. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan and serves on the city’s Transportation Commission, where she participated in the development of the 2030 Bike Walk Plan.
Stone’s concern over use of chemical herbicides on public playfields spurred her involvement in citizen’s advisory groups in both the Park District of Highland Park and North Shore District 112.