Pavlicek welcomed as new village manager
Cara Pavlicek hugs Village Clerk Teresa Powell after being sworn in during Wednesday evening's meeting at the Village Hall. Pavlicek is Oak Park's new Village Manager. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:42AM
With her family in the audience, Cara Pavlicek sat smiling as the Oak Park Village Board took 26 decidedly warm and fuzzy minutes to praise her, and just 35 seconds to unanimously approve her contract as new village manager.
Village President David Pope called the Jan. 9 special board meeting to vote on Pavlicek’s contract “a special and celebratory occasion.”
Pavlicek, who came to an agreement with the board on contract terms shortly before the meeting, will see a $25,000 boost in salary from her $125,000 interim village manager salary.
The new contract pays her a base salary of $150,000, and she will be eligible for annual performance bonuses of up to 10 percent, at the discretion of the board.
The contract requires Pavlicek to relocate to Oak Park within 18 months. The village will cover up to $10,000 of expenses related to selling her Downer’s Grove home, and up to $5,000 in moving expenses.
Unlike the previous village manager’s contract, which called for nine months severance, Pavlicek will be eligible for six months severance under certain conditions.
Trustee Adams Salzman, who was absent due to the flu, forwarded a statement, read by Bob Tucker, that expressed the board’s sentiment and assessment in a nutshell.
“Simply put, she was the best candidate,” Salzman said.
“The best one rose to the top,” agreed Glenn Brewer.
Tucker himself praised Pavlicek as a thoughtful administrator who brought a strong skill set to the job, saying, “Her strength and experience will help run a very complex organization like (Oak Park).”
Ray Johnson raised the issue of some negative commentary in the blogosphere, suggesting the board went through the motions in the selection process and that Pavlicek’s insider status assured her selection, calling those contentions “ridiculous and absurd.”
“It offends me to have people suggest we didn’t take this seriously,” Johnson said.
John Hedges praised his colleagues’ “discipline and thoughtfulness,” saying he was proud to have been a part of the manager selection process.
Colette Lueck said the search process had the added benefit of casting a light both on Oak Park’s positives and on a few not so positive attributes. Pavlicek, Lueck said, “has the support of all the board members because she deserves the support of all the board members.”
She added, “It’s really nice to not be the sole female here,” as Village Clerk Teresa Powell and Interim Village Attorney Simone Boutet sat smiling at either end of the dais.
Pope noted that Oak Park “can be a complex place to be an elected official, it can be a complex place to be in a leadership role as the village manager.” Pavicek, he said, had what it took to deal with it all.
“The board has confidence that you bring the skill sets and the experience necessary to manager effectively,” said Pope.
In thanking the board, Pavlicek noted that her past accomplishments in other municipalities “happened not just because of me but because I was able to work with both the groups of elected officials in those communities that were outstanding, a group of employees that were wonderful to work with, and in communities where citizens play various roles.”
After taking the oath of office, Pavlicek received a standing ovation and shook hands with each board member.
Pavlicek is looking forward to preparations for moving her family to Oak Park, but acknowledged,“I don’t have a good time table yet.”
Pavlicek acknowledged the challenges of a rocky economy, and the need to deal with ongoing contract negotiations with a significant portion of the village hall labor pool.
Members of the SEIU local voted no confidence in her management in December and announced it at the Dec. 10 board meeting.
“The board just adopted the budget for the 2013 fiscal year,” Pavlicek noted. “And that budget really creates the work plan for the entire year. So with the department directors, we kind of all know our to do lists.
“We’ve got to dig right in and get going on that.”
Asked about the labor negotiations, Pavlicek declined to comment specifically, saying the stalled contract negotiations were among numerous “priorities everyone has to focus on everyday, hopefully to continue to move things in a good direction, in a positive direction.”
In her brief remarks to the board Jan. 9, Pavlicek also alluded to Pope’s remarks, saying, “I also saw something (in Oak Park) that’s more challenging professionally than I’ve ever seen.”
Asked to elaborate, Pavlicek noted the historic diversity of opinions in the village, and people’s willingness to express them and expect government response.
“I really think that Oak Park, it takes a much broader look at local government services,” she said. “And they’re willing to address issues that, sometimes in local government we step back and say that’s not a core or basic service.”
“Oak Park is really aware of things and its history is about paying attention to issues that effect the quality of life I the community, and I think they don’t shy away from those challenges. So it does provide another set of day-to-day issues that you have to pay attention to.”