‘Highly qualified’ Fil-Ams in Illinois’ April 4 elections
CHICAGO—Three Filipino Americans are running for various elective positions in the April 4 elections in Illinois. All of them believe they carry the experience and commitment needed to make a difference in their respective communities.
In the upscale City of Oakbrook Terrace, located in the near southwest of Chicago, Arnulfo Rufo A. Noble Jr. is hoping to become the second Filipino American mayor in Illinois. The late Joven Fajardo was the first, having been the mayor of Glendale Heights in the 1990s into the early 2000s when a stroke forced him to retire.
Noble was the city’s treasurer from 1987 to 1992, and as a planning and zoning board commissioner since 1995, he recommended business developments that increased city revenues. He remains chairman of this powerful board. Oakbrook Terrace has 400,000 sq.ft. of office spaces, one of the biggest in the Chicago suburbs.
His most potent issue against the incumbent, Mayor Tony Ragucci, is to stop entitlements on the part of the incumbents and to check waste and duplication in city resources. His fiscal conservatism gets credence because of his experience in the financial management. Noble is an accountant who was formerly connected with the multinational Kraft.
Up for reelection
In the Northwest suburb of Morton Grove, its mayor, Daniel DiMaria, openly identifies himself with Ed Ramos, the village’s first and only Filipino American trustee who was the top vote-getter in its elections in 2015. Ramos is campaigning to be reelected. “Ed is the go-to guy not only with the Filipino community but with the Asian population of our diverse community,” conceded the mayor in an interview.
A retired accountant from United Airlines, Ramos’ work with the large Filipino Catholic parishioners at Morton Grove’s St. Martha’s and his volunteerism with the local senior citizens caught the eyes of the slating officers of the local Action Party. He initially was elected Village Clerk, which is considered as the most influential position in this village next only to the mayor.
Ramos does not take things for granted. Despite his popularity, he is working hard to get his whole team elected in their contested reelection bid. “We’ve proven ourselves as capable leaders but we have to make our voters know that,” he said while passing around his party’s hand bills.
The third hopeful is 36-year-old, Kenneth J. Mantel, who proudly identifies himself as a Filipino American who treasures the values that his inay has inculcated in him while he was growing up in the Village of Skokie. “Respect for others and helping those who don’t have much in life, these are just two of the lessons I learned from my Inay,” Mantel said while getting teary-eyed in an interview.
Kenneth’s mom, the former Tatiana Montoya, is highly enthusiastic about his son’s decision to seek one of the three open slots for the Skokie Park District Commission. Despite his 12-year experience in various aspects of the park district, his bid to be an official candidate of the ruling Caucus Party was not granted.
Undeterred, he decided to run as an independent. His credential is impressive. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Illinois University and a master’s in public service management from DePaul University. His volunteer work in youth athletics is solid and long.
As a father of four-year-old twins, Mantel is fully aware of the needs of the young people and he sees potentials in the park district services that can be used in enhancing the positive development of the youth. Mrs. Montel is certainly gung-ho on his son’s running. “Ken is so focused on what he can do for the village. Perhaps, he is the making of the first Fil-Am Mayor of Skokie,” she added with a smile.
All three candidates are confident of their qualification and truly believe that they can make a difference in the lives of their respective communities.
“As in my past running for elective positions, one benefit that we can all get from Filipino Americans running for office is that it motivates our community to get involved–there is an increase in voters’ participation and civic involvement. That alone is a victory,” said Ed Ramos.
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