Vandenberg seeks to change perceptions of Tinley Park
Jacob Vandenberg’s run for mayor of Tinley Park is fueled by a desire for people to know what he sees as the true beauty of the south suburban village.
“I’m tired of waking up what seems like every morning to hear something bad being said about Tinley Park,” Vandenberg, who currently serves as one of the village’s trustees, told the South Cook News. “Like a lot of the people, I’ve spent my whole life right here in Tinley Park. I can remember a time when what the people here stand for was being expressed through our government. People born in Tinley Park don’t leave, and it hurts all of us to hear so much negative stuff being attached to our community.”
To Vandenberg, one of the most damaging misperceptions has to do with an ongoing water meter scandal. The Chicago Tribune reports many residents are still seeking repayment from the government for overcharged services.
“The entire way that’s been handled has just been totally unprofessional and has put all of Tinley Park in a bad light,” he said. “That’s not a reflection of who the everyday people here really are.”
Although his opponent, Mayor Dave Seaman, replaced the retired Ed Zabrocki in 2015, Vandenberg views Seaman as an extension of the former mayor who was in office for 34 years.
Citing health issues, Zabrocki walked away midway through his last term in 2015 and handpicked Seaman, who previously served as a trustee for 31 years, as his successor. Seaman was later officially approved by the board in a narrow 3-2 vote, in which Vandenberg was one of the trustees voting no.
“People are tired of career politicians using their offices to award no one but themselves and their friends,” Vandenberg said, running at the head of the Concerned Citizens for Tinley Park slate. “There’s been pay-to-play contracts awarded with no public input. I don’t want to subject the residents to that kind of thing any longer.”
Vandenberg said the business-as-usual way of doing things that now permeates the area has resulted in a stream of pols who are only concerned with being reelected. He added that government is being pulled in too many directions, none of them about the will of the people, and his plan for the future incorporates a vision shared by residents.
Vandenberg has spent part of his election campaign on a “listening tour” where he has also stressed the increased accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibilities principles he stands for.
“Right now, there’s a lack of leadership that has left many of the natives restless,” Vandenberg said. “All the broken trust is finally starting to have repercussions. It distracts you from the goal of moving forward.”
Vandenberg was first elected trustee in 2015 when he and fellow CCTP members Brian Younker and Michael Pannitto unseated three members aligned with Zabrocki’s Team Tinley candidates. A lifelong Tinley Park resident, Vandenberg is also CEO and fourth-generation funeral director at Vandenberg Funeral Home, with locations in Tinley Park and Mokena.
He and his wife, Carrie, have two young sons, 3-year-old Oliver and 1-year-old Logan.