Silent until the end, the winning library administrator will not take a seat
The Oak Park Public Library will swear to its new board of directors on May 25, but Saria Lofton will not be among those taking the oath.
“Although I have been elected to the position of trustee of the library board, I will not be able to sit,” Lofton wrote in an email to library board chair Matt Fruth and the village clerk. at the time, Vicki Scaman, now president of the village.
By not taking the oath, Lofton will effectively resign from the post, forcing the board to appoint someone else to fill the vacant seat.
While Wednesday Journal got the email on May 20, Lofton sent it two days after the April 6 municipal election, in which she won the fourth open trustee seat with 17.75% of the vote. The Journal contacted Lofton for comment.
Despite Lofton’s refusal to publicly state in the weeks following the election whether she intended to take office, the date of the email to Fruth and Scaman dispels any residual perplexity over her plans.
The library’s May 25 board meeting will include a discussion on how to go about a date, Fruth told the Wednesday Journal. The council will begin discussions about a system of appointment after taking the oath, he said.
“On our agenda is an action point to declare a position vacant and then hopefully make a decision on a process to fill that position,” Fruth said.
The Oak Park Public Library (OPPL) Board of Trustees will also vote on its next round of office at Tuesday’s meeting, which will take place after the Wednesday Journal printing deadline. The vote will determine whether Fruth will step into a new term as president.
Fruth reached out to the elected directors a few weeks ago to find out what aspects they would like to see included in the nomination process.
“We just have to start thinking about it so that we can be in a good position when we start this discussion,” Fruth said.
Lofton’s victory caused a lot of confusion in Oak Park as Lofton had tried to withdraw from the exam before election night, but after the deadline to remove a candidate’s name from the ballot.
Many questioned whether the seat would automatically go to Peter Prokopowicz, the fifth-place candidate. However, Lofton’s withdrawal was deemed unofficial under Illinois Board of Elections regulations because she failed to authenticate her withdrawal statement, rendering it invalid and her victory legal.
Lofton never explained why she couldn’t sit on the library board in any of her communications with Wednesday Journal. Neither gave him a reason in his May 8 email to Fruth and Scaman.
The library board is subject to the Open Meetings Act. When the time comes to formally appoint a new trustee, the vote will take place in public.
Prokopowicz announced that he would not submit to the nomination review in a written statement sent on May 2 to the Wednesday Journal. The statement also serves as an excuse for previous offensive jokes Prokopowicz has made on social media at the expense of Asian Americans. Prokopowicz has been widely criticized in the Oak Park community for his social media posts.
“From public discussions of my comments online, it’s clear that not all community members have this confidence in me,” the statement from Prokopowicz read. “I apologize to the Asian-American community for the harm I have caused and ask the OPPL board not to consider me a replacement for Trustee-Elect Lofton if she resigns.”