Steve Eberhardt, a Tinley Park lawyer who recently petitioned to have an advisory referendum on village term limits added to the November ballot, announced over the weekend that he was running for mayor in April.
Running with a theme of fiscal responsibility, Eberhardt said he wants to streamline village finances by cutting away unnecessary expenses that are passed on to taxpayers.
READ: Petition Filed for Referendum on Term Limits in Tinley Park
"If I were mayor, no taxpayer money would be spent by me, my wife or anybody else on tickets to Christmas parties, golf outing dinners, gala dinners, gala fundraisers or festivals," he said in his YouTube video declaring his candidacy. "No taxpayer money would be spent to buy gifts, like Waterford clocks."
For the past few years, Eberhardt has been examining village government spending and policies by gathering information through Freedom of Information Act requests. This led to a successful legal battle in 2010 to stop the village from putting up a senior housing project near 179th Street and Harlem Avenue. He also has released his findings on his Tinley Sparks website.
The decision to push for change from the inside by running for mayor came recently, Eberhardt said in an interview Monday. As he was collecting signatures for November's term limit referendum, he listened to residents talk about how Tinley Park was run, with community members offering complimentary, as well as critical, perspectives about the current state of affairs.
VOTE: Should Local Elected Officials Have Term Limits?
"I never seriously considered doing it until basically I talked to a lot of people," Eberhardt said.
Ultimately, though, it was the comments from people who felt local officials were dismissing their concerns that persuaded Eberhardt to throw his hat into the ring. Despite having used FOIA requests and his websites in the past to get those concerns addressed, Eberhardt said he didn't think that was enough anymore and that if he wanted real change, it would have to come from within the system.
"If nobody keeps up the pressure, they revert back to their old ways," Eberhardt said. "If you want it to be changed, if you feel it needs to be changed, you take the next step."
"Someone's got to do it. … I'm not necessarily the person who wants to do it, but I don't hear anybody else saying they will," he added.
And yes, Eberhardt said he would limit his terms in office if elected mayor, even if the referendum fails or the board decides not to institute them.
The mayoral election will be April 9, 2013, along with elections for some local school and village board seats. Mayor Ed Zabrocki, who has served in that office since 1981, has not announced yet if he is running for re-election. The deadline for filing candidate petitions is between Dec. 17 and 24.
Here's a look at Eberhardt's past experience and accomplishments:
- Graduated Brother Rice High School, Loyola University of Chicago and the John Marshall Law School.
- Worked as a full-time police radio dispatcher and a part-time officer in the Tinley Park Police Department.
- Worked as an assistant state's attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney Office.
- Began his own local law practice—Eberhardt Law—in 1992.
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