Carole Ruzich leads new slate in Orland Village elections

Carole Ruzich leads new slate in Orland Village elections
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Carole Ruzich leads new slate in Orland Village elections

Veteran Orland Park Village Trustee Carole Griffin Ruzich will lead an independent slate of candidates including Kelly O’Brien and Devin Hodge for three seats in the Orland Park village elections in April 2019.

Over 1500 petition signatures for Orland Park Trustee, exceeding the 645 required to be on the April 2 election ballot, were filed by the Orland Integrity Party, on behalf of candidates, Carole Griffin Ruzich, Kelly O’Brien and Devin Hodge.

The candidates chose to run as the Orland Integrity Party, a non-partisan, new party, because of their pledge to Orland Park voters to serve the community with transparency and honor as public servants.

Ruzich, a two-term incumbent, said “Politics can be so divisive. I’m proud of my track record of bringing people together. I’ve also been working hard on behalf of businesses and after long negotiations, I will be happy to see the department store Von Maur open.”

Trustee Carole Griffin Ruzich (right) and her husband Larry Ruzich

Trustee Carole Griffin Ruzich (right) and her husband Larry Ruzich

O’Brien, an economic development specialist, grew up shopping at stores such as Marshall Fields at Orland Square Mall. “Orland is very retail rich, and as shopping patterns change, communities have to have cutting-edge strategies to respond to the consequences with transportation, workforce and real estate. I’ve spent more than a decade working around professionals crafting solutions and I want to bring that knowledge home.”

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Hodge, born and raised in Orland Park and a current member of the District 135 school board, commented, “I was honored to be asked to join this slate. As a COO at Argonne National Laboratory, I oversee an annual budget of over $200M. As a fiscal conservative, I have the experience to be a steward over the Village’s finances.”

Here are profiles of each of the trustee candidates:

Carole Griffin Ruzich is excited to be running for Trustee with the Orland Integrity Party. Carole’s track record as a Trustee since 2011 illustrates her commitment to keeping property taxes low in Orland Park, while striving to maintain an excellent quality of life for all residents.

During her time on the Board, Carole has never voted to raise property taxes. Instead, she has worked collaboratively with staff, and the entire Board to find creative solutions to economic pressures, including those caused by the decline in “brick and mortar” retail.  As former Chair of the Finance Committee, she was also instrumental in reducing our Village debt by 50+ million, while presenting balanced budgets

Carole is keenly aware of the importance of economic development to our community, and brings to the Board her private sector experience as an attorney with a real estate finance and development background. As the current Chair of the Development Services Committee, Carole was part of the Village team that recently negotiated to bring the upscale retailer, Von Maur, to the vacant Carson’s store at Orland Square Mall.  Expected to open in 2019, Von Maur’s presence will help position the Mall to continue its evolution into a destination experience, and remain an economic engine for the Village.

Carole believes attracting young families to our Village, as well as providing lower tax rates for our seniors to remain in their homes, are critical to our future success as a Village. She is committed to supporting policies and initiatives that encourage these goals.

A longtime resident of Orland Park, Carole has been an active volunteer in our community, including serving as a member of the Palos Community Hospital Board of Directors, the Orland Park Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, and the Saint Michael’s Parish Ministry Commission. In addition, she has dedicated countless hours coaching boys and girls sports teams.

After graduating from Mother McAuley High School, Carole received her B.A. in History and Government with Honors from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN.  She went on to receive her J.D. from University of Illinois, and currently manages her family law firm, Griffin & Gallagher, LLC, located in Palos Hills. Carole and her husband, Larry, have three children, Dan, Kim and Megan – and two wheaten terriers, Griffin and Reilly!

As part of the Orland Integrity Party, Devin Hodge is running in the April 2019 election, for Orland Park Trustee. His management background has been utilized serving on the Orland District 135 School Board, since accepting an unexpired term seat in October 2015 and being elected to this office in 2017. In his role on the 135 School Board, he has a proven track record of applying his management experience towards public service which will help Orland Park continue to be prosperous.

Devin Hodge and his wife Jill Hodge

Devin Hodge and his wife Jill Hodge

Devin has lived nearly his whole life in Orland Park and loves his hometown. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Illinois State University and has worked at Argonne National Laboratory for the past 19 years.

In his current role at Argonne, Devin is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) for Laboratory’s Computing, Environment, and Life Sciences organization. As the COO, he is responsible for leading efficient, cost-effective, and high-quality operational activities, managing an annual organizational budget of over $200M. He has more than two decades of leadership experience and is committed to supporting Argonne’s important mission.

Prior to his current appointment, Devin was the Deputy Director of Operations for Argonne’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a five-year $125M energy innovation project creating next-generation energy storage technologies. He previously managed Argonne’s sustainability program, and he has held positions in waste management, environmental compliance, nuclear operations, and project management. Before joining Argonne, Devin worked in environmental consulting, providing geological, environmental investigation, and remediation expertise to various clients.

Devin is an alumnus of the 2011 Strategic Laboratory Leadership Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He has been recognized as an Argonne Outstanding Staff Mentor and has twice won the Secretary of Energy Achievement Award for his contributions to the Department of Energy and the Nation.

Devin and his wife Jill have four children, Denny, Abby, Betsy and Phoebe.

As part of the Orland Integrity Party, Kelly O’Brien is running in the April 2019 election, for Orland Park Trustee. As an economic development specialist, Kelly can bring a unique expertise, helping position Orland Park for the future.

Kelly O'Brien

Kelly O’Brien

Currently, Kelly manages a team responsible for the Alliance for Regional Development (Alliance) and the Chicago Central Area Committee (CCAC). Her career spans both the public and private sectors and she has distinguished herself as a creative and strategic thinker.  Kelly is responsible for convening leaders from government, academia and the private sector to identify and execute collaborative initiatives.

Raised in Palos Hills, Kelly served on the City Council and Chaired the Economic Development Committee before moving to Washington, DC to serve at the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) as Director of Public Affairs and as the liaison for the Secretary to the nation’s premier leaders of business, government and academia regarding American competitiveness.

Kelly is running for Trustee to lend her expertise as an economic development professional.  She understands that Orland Park, as a retail rich community, will continue to experience change as stores close and buying patterns continue to trend toward online sales. Not raising property taxes and keeping the tax base strong are top priorities.  Also, she is a strong advocate for public safety, in both our homes and businesses.  She is acutely aware of these issues given her experiences with police boards and her extended family of four generations of firefighters.

She is committed to spearheading strategies to attract younger families to Orland Park to keep our community vibrant.  At the same time, she will also give her attention to Orland’s senior citizens who deserve services and facilitation for a positive later in life experience.

Kelly received a degree in Political Communications from The George Washington University and her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She was inducted into the Moraine Valley Community College Hall of Fame in 2015.  Kelly joined the St. Laurence High School Board of Directors in 2016 and is also a recipient of the InternationalStVincent de Paul Vincentian Charism Awardfor public service.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

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