The non-partisan Civic Betterment Party was organized in 1931 in response to the financial burden placed on Village residents by an extraordinary concrete paving program in prior decades. The Party’s purpose was to seek candidates who would decrease the financial burdens upon residents, effect economies, decrease expenditures and improve the Village’s business practices. According to N. P. “Bob” Luginbill, who wrote the CBP’s history, “The fundamental principle of the Party was that office would seek the candidate, not the candidate seek the office. This meant, too, that only one candidate would be slated for each office, thus eliminating the partisan contested aspects of the Village election.”
The Party was successful in electing an initial slate for Village President and three open Trustee positions and subsequently enjoyed wide support in the Village. It was loosely structured and maintained a low profile. The Party typically sought a lawyer, engineer or architect, accountant, businessperson, and financial professional to fill out the Village Board. This informal quota system and lack of any contest for office ruled until 1970.
Then a study of the Civic Betterment Party was conducted. It involved the Jaycees and the League of Women Voters, in cooperation with the CBP. From the study came a reorganization plan to increase residents’ participation in selecting village officials. On May 12, 1970, 350 residents at a Town Meeting approved a plan that created a Nominating Committee, with elected and appointed members, which would present to a Town Meeting twice the number of the nominees as vacancies in office.
Consequently, for the first time in the Civic Betterment’s history, two women were among the Civic Betterment slate of nominees. Both were elected by significant margins.
In the early 1970s, another party, the Open Forum Party, presented candidates for two elections, but none were elected. Since that time, almost without exception, Glen Ellyn’s long line of excellent Village and Library office-holders have emerged from the Civic Betterment Party “neighbors nominating neighbors” process.