Andrew Przybylo, George Alpogianis, John Jekot and Danette Matyas called a press conference Monday at White Eagle banquets to announce they are running as a slate in Niles in the April election. They have formed the New Niles Party 2013.
Przybylo, a current Niles trustee, will run for Niles mayor, while the others will run for trustee positions. Alpogianis had announced earlier and said Prybylo would be the mayoral candidate, but Przybylo formally declared Monday.
The two introduced Jekot, the vice president of the East Maine Elementary District 63 school board, and Matyas, a Niles Public Library board member, as their running mates.
"We're going to run hard and fast. You will see the full force of everything I've learned in political life in the past 20 years," Przybylo said.
The race will be contested, since Chris Hanusiak, Louella Preston, Jim Hynes and Mary Marusek have also created a slate of candidates, with Hanusiak as the mayoral candidate. He, Preston and Hynes are current trustees.
Also, and is mulling his decision based on health considerations.
At the Monday press conference, Przybylo and the others read a statement saying some of its goals are to make Niles business-friendly, build a positive image for Niles, reinvigorate animal control service, possibly not charge for the Free Bus, enact a new zoning ordinance, establish standing committees among trustees, evaluate village staff by performance metrics and reorganize the Sister Cities program.
Przybylo has been a Niles trustee since 1989.
In citing his qualifications, Przybylo talked about experience he's gained in his full-time job as Secretary of the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals. In this position, he considers and renders judgments on zoning matters, such as variations on property setbacks or fence heights, for homeowners in unincorporated parts of Cook County, he said.
"I’ve tried to bring my expertise from the county to the village and from the village to the county," he said.
What has he learned from his county experience? "In terms of Niles, we have to move quickly, and also that people matter. People need to know what’s going on near them," he said.
In addition to his 40 hour a week county job downtown, Przybylo said he also works about 20 hours a week at White Eagle Banquets, which his parents started and his family owns, but will likely cut back on those hours because he feels his family business is in good hands. Four of his siblings also have leadership roles in the business.
Discussing how much time he could spend on the job of mayor, "I have to professionalize with these folks' help," he said, indicating the three trustee candidates, "by creating sound standing committees."
Trustees would be assigned to those standing committees, on subjects such as police/fire, community development and finance, he explained.
Przybylo said he would like to have village of Niles department heads and and staff set measurable goals for their jobs, and then hold them accountable to those goals, much in the way Cook County holds its employees accountable to their set goals.
Przybylo has also served as president of the Polish American Association, formerly known as the Polish Welfare Association, a social welfare agency.
He said he's like to reinvigorate the Sister Cities program in new ways, possibly with ideas such as holding a Skype Night so Niles residents could Skype with residents of Sister Cities in foreign countries.
George Alpogianis, the owner of Kappy's Restaurant in Morton Grove, said he moved to Niles in 2000 with his wife and small children.
"I saw the way the village was run, not only the school systems and park districts, but all the services available. I particularly liked the way seniors were taken care of," he said, adding he thought it would be a good place to raise a family and also to retire to.
"I was a Zoning board commissioner from 2000 to 2009, was elected trustee, " he said.
Earlier: Governor pardons Alpogianis
"I believe in community service."
He cited some of his community activities, including:
- In the Village of Niles' Sister Cities program, chairing the Greek Sister City relationship for 7 years
- Scoutmaster and Cubmaster of Boy Scout Troop/Cub Scout Pack 821 at St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, Niles
- St. Haralambos Parish Council 8 years, including president and treasurer three of those years
- Member of American Legion Post 134
- Received a Citizen of the Year award from the Niles Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its Night of the Roses gala.
Jekot, who has served on the School District 63 board since 1999, also serves on the district's foundation board and has been a past president of it. He is president of the Optimist Club of Niles, active in the St. John Brebeuf parish, and a former board member of the Niles Baseball League.
Jekot said he would not plan to step down as a District 63 board member if elected trustee.
Professionally, Jekot has a background in both park district administration and marketing. He has served in administrative positions, including Superintendent of Recreation, for various park districts. Currently, he works as a licensed life insurance producer.
Jekot said he sees service on the Niles village board as a natural progression of the community service he has contributed up until now. if elected, he does not plan to step down from the District 63 board.
The National Association of School Boards awarded Jekot its Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes up to one percent of the nation's 95,000 school board members.
In 2009, the Niles Chamber of Commerce awarded him its Unsung Worker "Not Enough Hours in the Day" award.
Danette O'Donovan Matyas
Matyas was elected to the Niles Library Board in April 2011. Professionally, she said she worked for a major corporation in its finance department for 31 years, putting herself through college while working and raising a family. She earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from DePaul University in 2006.
She said she would like to keep the Niles Free Bus service intact.
Matyas indicated she would not step down as a library board member if elected trustee.