Gomberg readies independent mayoral run in Morton Grove
Trustee Larry Gomberg
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:12AM
MORTON GROVE — Morton Grove Trustee Larry Gomberg plans to challenge the powerful Action Party next April with an independent bid for mayor.
The move will pit Gomberg against the party that has slated him to run for trustee in the past. He most recently was elected on the Action Party ticket in 2009, the year the party ousted the Caucus Party from village government.
But Gomberg said he no longer wants someone else telling him what positions to take. In addition he contended that the Action Party, which holds every elected post in the village, is too satisfied with conditions in Morton Grove and is not doing enough to make improvements.
“When you rest on your laurels you don’t look for opportunities to make things better,” Gomberg said. “We’re good, but we can always do better. We need to take a progressive view.”
Mark Matz, president of the Action Party, said in a written statement that the group anticipated that Gomberg would run against its endorsed candidate next year.
“The Action Party has been aware for some time that Trustee Larry Gomberg feels as if he could do things differently as the mayor of Morton Grove, although he had not provided us with any specifics,” Matz said.
Matz’s statement continued: “While he has not officially resigned from the Action Party, he has verbally expressed being unhappy with the current administration and has been critical of Mayor Dan Staackmann. His announcement seeking to run for the office on his own is not totally unexpected, especially after several months of his declining to attend Action Party events and meetings.”
Gomberg was first elected to a four-year term on the village board on the Action Party slate in 2001. He lost his bid for reelection in 2005 when the Caucus Party led by former Mayor Rick Krier swept every race, winning the posts of mayor and village clerk, and three seats on the village board.
But Gomberg was reelected four years later again on the Action Party slate.
His current term as trustee expires next April.
Gomberg said he is in the process of developing his positions on specific issues, but added that he wants the independence a mayoral bid challenging the Action Party will give him.
“I like to do my own thing. I want to run a race where I’m not going to be told what to do,” Gomberg said.
Gomberg said he still has good relations with members of the Action Party, including Mayor Dan Staackmann, but said he does not want to be governed by the positions of the party.
“I don’t want that situation anymore,” he said. “I don’t want to be anybody’s mayor except the mayor of the people of Morton Grove.”
Gomberg said his initial task will be to create some kind of election committee and collect the signatures needed to appear on the April ballot.
Gomberg conceded that it will be difficult to defeat a candidate backed by the Action Party, which is established, heavily organized and able to conduct an active campaign.
“I’ll be an underdog, obviously,” Gomberg said. “This is the party that defeated the Caucus Party twice. I know what they can do.”
That was a lesson Staackmann learned after attempting to organize his own opposition party and running as an independent before joining the Action Party.
Staackmann, a likely candidate for mayor in April, first ran for mayor in 1997 when he headed a full slate that unsuccessfully challenged the Action Party.
Four years later he was defeated running for trustee as an independent.
But he was elected to the village board in 2003 after being slated by the Action Party. Two years after that he lost his bid to defeat Krier in the contest for mayor, but won the return bout in 2009 when the Caucus Party went down to defeat and Staackmann was elected to his first term as mayor.
Matz said Gomberg had indicated earlier that he planned to go before the Action Party slating committee in the fall to seek its endorsement, “but, it seems that he has decided upon a different path.”
“As an organization, we are very disappointed that he has now chosen to run as an independent candidate,” Matz added.