River Forest village president hopeful has passion for track
River Forest Village Trustee Mike Gibbs has long indulged a passion for collage track and field by working as an official for the sport. | Submitted
Updated: January 16, 2013 8:34AM
RIVER FOREST — Before River Forest trustee Mike Gibbs discovered his passion for the workings of local government, he had a long-established love for track and field.
The high school sprinter lettered all four years at Loras College in Iowa, running distances up to the 400 meters. After graduation, he went to work for the family business, Anderson Elevator, as a salesman. He’s also a certified elevator inspector.
But he stayed connected to track and field, becoming certified as a college official. He worked University of Illinois track meets for 10 years before moving to officiate at the University of Notre Dame. He’s also qualified to officiate at the Olympics.
For nine years preceding his election to the village board, Gibbs was president of the Oak Park River-Forest High School Booster Club, helping it raise nearly $1 million for school programs. Most of that money, he stressed, went to non-athletic programs.
He also served on the village Traffic and Safety Commission, which he credits with introducing him to the mechanisms of village governance and policy-making.
Gibbs, who grew up in Oak Park, is married to Sally, a life-long River Forest resident. They are the parents of twin nine-year old girls who attend Lincoln School.
He is a candidate village president and will face fellow trustee Cathy Adduci in the April 9 election. Last week, Forest Leaves talked to Adduci; this week, it’s Gibbs’ turn.
Q: Why your involvement in track and field?
A: “It’s pretty special. It’s a way to stay connected with the sport. I lettered in track all four years in college, and ran in four Drake Relays. My dad was a 1937 Drake Relays champion in the pole vault.”
“When I watched the Olympics, I saw guys I’d (officiated) at college meets.”
Q: What were your main accomplishments on the village board?
A: “For the first two years (2009-2010) we extinguished the hysterics going on, toned that down a little. The last two years, we’ve (seen progress). We’re building on what’s been done the first two years. And planting the seeds for the future.
“The TIF district was a big boon for the village.
Q: Talk about your service work.
A: “When I was with the OPRF Boosters, we worked to benefit all the (aspects) of the high school. Maybe 10 percent went to athletics. We raised $8,000 for curtains for the new theater, and paid for new rolling cameras for the TV studio, Those were $6,000 a piece.”
Q: Like your village president opponent, Cathy Adduci, economic development is important to you?
A: “It’s a very sexy topic. Lot’s of people talk about it. From the village’s point of view, the biggest influence we can have is to make River Forest appealing to (businesses) that want to move here.”
“Forest Park really has a nice (commercial/dining) district going on Madison Street. River Forest could compete with that better -- a lot better.”
Q: Why pick River Forest to live?
A: “I like River Forest. I lived next door to it (growing up). And my wife grew up here. We had to live somewhere. When (our first house) became available, we jumped at it. Been living the dream ever since.”