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Bury ready to jump right in as Oak Lawn mayor

Oak Lawn Mayor-elect SandrBury.  |  Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

Oak Lawn Mayor-elect Sandra Bury. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 12, 2013 2:10PM



The morning after the biggest night of her young political life, Sandra Bury was at a 9 a.m. meeting Wednesday with ComEd representatives and village officials to discuss recent power surges in Oak Lawn.

Just 12 hours prior, she had surged past incumbent Dave Heilmann to win the village’s mayoral seat. Probably nobody would have complained if she had slept in.

But her attention to detail, of showing an interest in something that affects even just a part of Oak Lawn, shows she has what it takes, village Trustee Alex Olejniczak said.

“Dr. Bury, not even sworn in yet, sitting in on a ComEd meeting that, for years, I didn’t see the mayor sitting in ... that’s the dedication that we, as a village, need to show to our residents,” said Olejniczak, who campaigned with Bury.

Catching up on the hundreds of congratulatory text and Facebook messages Wednesday afternoon at her campaign office, Bury said she plans to meet with department heads before she takes the oath of office May 14.

She credited a core group of 20 campaign workers, and another 150 in the field, with helping get our her message and convincing voters change was needed.

“There’s not any one thing ... you can only do so much as an individual. I could not have done it without such an enthusiastic and supportive team,” she said.

Bury, an optometrist, got help at the eye clinic she owns as five doctors took on some of her workload to free her up for the campaign.

One doctor, Kathryn Narbone, sent her a text early Tuesday telling Bury “today’s your due date ... as I was told on delivery day, relax, breathe and enjoy the moment.”

“So the baby is beautiful and it’s a big one,” Bury said with a laugh.

She plans to take off one day a week from her practice to focus on village business. Mayor is a part-time job in Oak Lawn, which she has called home since 1979. She was 17 when the family moved from Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood shortly after she was robbed at 64th Street and Western Avenue by a culprit with a butcher knife.

The 1979 grad of Maria High School grew to love Oak Lawn, which prompted her mayoral bid when she grew disenchanted with the job done by Heilmann.

Choosing her words carefully, she said, “There was a groundswell of frustration (in voters).

“Look at 111th and Cicero, a wonderful thing, but they’ve been talking about that since 2005, and there’s still no business in there,” she said of the former Kmart site. “Everything seemed to be extra difficult to do.

“Times are tough but other communities seem to come out of it a little quicker,” she said, noting how neighboring Evergreen Park swiftly redeveloped the former Evergreen Park Country Club to retail and park land.

“I don’t think we had the right leadership. The mayor lacked interest in the entire community. When Mayor Heilmann won in 2005, I was president of the Rotary. We sent a letter saying we’d adjust our schedule to meet with him. We never got a response except a fundraising request,” she said, vowing to “get out there making connections stronger.”

She looks forward to working with a new board.

Olejniczak (2nd) won a third term. He was in Bury’s Oak Lawn First party with new trustees Tim Desmond (1st) and Mike Carberry (6th).

Independent Terry Vorderer won in the 4th. Not up for re-election were Heilmann ally Carol Quinlan (5th) and longtime Trustee Bob Streit (3rd).

“I think we can do good things. The passion on the board for Oak Lawn is very real,” Bury said.

Village manager Larry Deetjen appears to have Bury’s support.

“He will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. He won’t sugarcoat it,” Bury said. “He’s a big thinker at the height of his career and he has a lot to offer. Is he perfect? Nobody is. His experience is a nice match to my energy.”

She and Heilmann have been in touch.

“He sent a lovely email and I responded at about 2 in the morning and thanked him for his service,” she said.

Late endorsements by Village Clerk Jane Quinlan and attorney Burt Odelson, who represents many elected bodies in the Southland, were unsolicited and much appreciated by Bury, she said.

Quinlan, elected to a third term, said she “felt a sense of peace” when she walked into the village hall Wednesday morning.

“I’m so excited. I haven’t felt like this for a long time,” she said in her second-floor office.

One wall is nearly covered with photos from her life. Already posted is one of her and Bury smiling at the new mayor’s victory party.

Nearby is a large photo of Quinlan and Heilmann, both smiling. It’s from happier times before he ran a candidate against her.

There are no hard feelings, she said. The photo stays.

“I’m being very honest. This town isn’t about myself or the trustees or the mayor. It’s about the people of Oak Lawn. We’re here to serve them,” she said.

Olejniczak said the board now has a leader in Bury.

“A true leader is able to listen to all aspects and then guide us to the best outcome. I believe in the past we didn’t have that. And in the future we will have that,” he said.

Heilmann did not return two calls Wednesday, one to his office and one to his home. On Tuesday night, he wished the winners well.



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