Only D86 race will be contested in April

Candidates equal number of open seats for village board, library board and D181 board

Hinsdale voters will see only one contested race on the ballot when they head to the polls April 4.

Five candidates will vie for three seats on the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board in the consolidated general election. Kay Gallo of Clarendon Hills, former D86 board member and board president, is seeking to return to office. Also running are Asma Akhras of Darien, Andrew Catton of Hinsdale, Cat Greenspon of Burr Ridge and Deborah Willoughby of Westmont.

None of the three candidates whose terms are expiring — board President Erik Held and members Cynthia Hanson and Kathleen Hirsman — are running for re-election. The three ran together on a slate in 2019, with Held and Hanson seeking their first terms and Hirsman her second.

Held said he had to submit a request to run to his employer, UBS, as he did four years ago when he ran for his first term. In 2018, the approval came back in two days.

“This year it was a little bit over a month,” said Held, who is a first vice president of wealth management with UBS. “There was a heavier degree of review involved in it.”

The business climate has changed, as has his role on the board, he said. Although he was approved to run conditionally, he said further conversations with management and his team “made the decision for me.”

“I would have loved to have run. There is just so much positive that is going on in the district, and I love being a part of it. I hope in some way I’m going to continue to be a part of it,” he said, indicating he would consider running again in two years.

Hirsman said after two rewarding terms, it’s time to move on.

“It was a wonderful eight years,” she said, noting that she’s had the opportunity to serve under five or six different board presidents. “I so appreciated the different dynamics of each board. “It’s been a great experience.”

Hanson, a former Gower Elementary District 62 Board member, said she is “incredibly proud” of the work of the district during her tenure.

“Given I’ve spent the last eight years serving on local school boards, I am stepping away and looking forward to focusing more of my time with my family and in other areas of community service that are important to me,” Hanson said.

District 181

Four candidates are running for four seats on the District 181 board.

Incumbents Asim Aleem and Margie Kleber of Hinsdale and Sinead Duffy of Clarendon Hills are running for another term. Newcomer Meg Cooper of Burr Ridge, executive director of the D181 Foundation, also is seeking a spot on the board.

Aleem was appointed Aug. 1 to fill a vacancy, and Duffy is completing the end of her first four-year term. Kleber served two four-year terms before being elected to a two-year term in 2021.

Sheetal Rao, who is completing her first four-year term, is not running for re-election. She told The Hinsdalean she’s grateful to have had the opportunity to serve.

“I am going to be focusing a bit more on my career,” Rao said, citing her work with a start-up environmental nonprofit, Nordson Green Earth Foundation, over the past 18 months. “I’d like to focus more time on that.”

She also is in the midst of a medical fellowship in climate change and searching for a full-time position in that field.

Hinsdale Village Board

Trustees Scott Banke and Luke Stifflear and newcomer Alexis Braden, a member of the Hinsdale Historic Preservation Commission, are running uncontested for three open seats on the village board. Trustee Laurel Haarlow is not seeking re-election.

“It’s been a privilege to serve on Hinsdale’s board of trustees,” Haarlow said. “While I will miss this involvement, after four years I’m ready to focus on other interests.”

A lottery for ballot placement will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Village Hall, 19 E. Chicago Ave., for candidates who submitted their nominating papers simultaneously when filing opened at 8 a.m. Dec. 12 or during the last hour of filing Dec. 19.

Hinsdale Public Library Board

The library board has an unprecedented six seats open in the April election, three with four-year terms and three with two-year terms.

Six individuals have filed to run for those seats.

Incumbents John Bloomfield and Megan Davia Mikhail are seeking four-year terms along with newcomer Magdalena Sokolowski.

Incumbent Kim Kiyosaki and newcomers Chun Ye and Ying Zhou are running for the two-year terms.

Incumbents Julie Liesse, Denise Wong and Emily Zeng are not seeking another term.

Liesse is nearing the end of almost eight years on the board, six of which she served as president.

“It’s been a wonderful and challenging and rewarding experience,” she said. “But I’m getting ready to downsize and am not sure where I’ll end up. So it’s time to move on.”

She said she is thrilled to have six excellent candidates, including three incumbents, on the ballot.

“I know I’ll leave the library in good hands, especially with our new strategic plan in place,” she said.

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean