Tinley Park mayoral candidate Steve Eberhardt (left) pretends to be debating with a mannequin depicting Mayor Ed Zabrocki after a village board meeting Tuesday at the village hall. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 28, 2013 6:34AM
In another chapter of what is fast becoming an entertaining mayoral race in Tinley Park, challenger Steve Eberhardt brought a political flavor to Tuesday night’s village board meeting — which left a sour taste in Mayor Ed Zabrocki’s mouth.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Eberhardt delivered what he called “engraved invitations” — actually paper copies — to the mayor and three trustees who are up for re-election in April, inviting them to debate him and his three running mates.
“That is not a topic for discussion at this village board meeting. You know that’s political,” Zabrocki told Eberhardt.
“The village board,” Eberhardt countered, “is open to all matters.”
While that’s true, Zabrocki said, “now we’re getting political and we won’t allow that at this village board meeting.”
As the meeting ended, Zabrocki singled out Eberhardt and thanked him for attending, saying it was nice to see him.
Moments later, Zabrocki told the SouthtownStar he would not debate Eberhardt because it would give the challengers “more opportunity.”
“I have my ways in which I’ll get out my concepts, ideas and thoughts. He has to find his way. I’m not going to help him,” Zabrocki said.
Holding court in the foyer outside the board room, Eberhardt laughed when asked about the response to his invitation.
“I don’t think he’s eager to debate me,” Eberhardt said, noting Zabrocki never responded to an email debate invitation sent Nov. 20.
Asked what he thought of Zabrocki calling the invitation “political,” Eberhardt said: “The mayor does politics at a lot of places.
“When I don’t get a response from the mayor of Tinley Park, I have every right to come to a board meeting and say, ‘I’ve been waiting for an answer for months. You are the our incumbent mayor, you want to be re-elected, why don’t you answer the people’s questions?’ ” Eberhardt said.
He also criticized the village’s “delay” in naming a committee that will be launched to examine the issue of term limits, an idea that won overwhelming support in an advisory referendum in the November election.
A seven-person committee to be named by Zabrocki is expected to take six months to review the idea of term limits, a period that extends well beyond the April 9 election. Zabrocki said Wednesday the committee will not be filled with his supporters, and will include at least one former mayor.
Eberhardt running mate Karen Weigand said the village board is avoiding what could be tough questions by refusing to debate.
Andrew DeLuca and Nancy Petro also are running with Eberhardt, while Trustees Dave Seaman, Brian Maher and T.J. Grady are up for re-election with Zabrocki.
“There’s going to be debate. I’ll sit right here,” Eberhardt said, taking a seat on a village hall bench beside a mannequin of Zabrocki.