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updated: 4/6/2011 6:06 PM

Elgin City Council in for big changes

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  • Mike Warren

    Mike Warren

  • Anna Moeller

    Anna Moeller

  • Tish Powell

    Tish Powell

  • Elgin Mayor Ed Schock reacts as disappointing election results roll in Tuesday evening at Villa Verone.

      Elgin Mayor Ed Schock reacts as disappointing election results roll in Tuesday evening at Villa Verone.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


Provided Kane and Cook counties certify the vote in the next couple weeks, the Elgin City Council will look radically different at its second April meeting. A new mayor will sit at the center of the dais, one current councilman will be absent and women will once again chime in on the city's policy decisions.

These changes follow an election with the lowest voter turnout in decades.

David Kaptain, vacating a council seat to run for mayor, defeated 12-year incumbent Ed Schock while, Anna Moeller and Tish Powell edged Mike Warren out of his council seat. John Steffen smoothly rose to re-election as the highest vote-getter in the race.

Kaptain attributes at least part of his success to the way he ran his campaign: low budget, high community engagement.

Kaptain and his wife knocked on more than 2,000 doors with other campaign volunteers pushing the total count to more than 5,000 homes. He matched the low-tech outreach with a reliance on social media, like blogs and Facebook, and read the comments attached to online articles to find out what triggered community responses.

"It was really a blend of shoe leather work and completely the other side," Kaptain said.

Schock budgeted $20,000 more for his campaign than Kaptain spent and focused more on traditional mailers and signs. Schock said in the end Kaptain ran an aggressive campaign and believes the lower voter turnout worked against him.

Kaptain's plan for his first term as mayor will be to continue reaching out to residents. He said he will host more "Kaptain's Community Conversations" to hear from focus groups including members of the African American, Latino, Laotian, small business and nonprofit communities.

"I want people to be involved," Kaptain said. "I don't want this to be a top-down, 'what's best for you.' It's what's best for us."

Elgin has had an all-male council since Brenda Rodgers failed in her 2007 re-election bid. Rodgers served for a few months with Marie Yearman who died in office in 2003, prematurely ending her fourth term.

Powell said she is particularly excited to have two qualified women serving. She said it will mean great things for the council.

"It's important to have different perspectives represented on our city council," Powell said. "I don't think we can expect to truly serve our residents if the board doesn't reflect the different aspects of our community."

Powell narrowly defeated Warren, something many connect to Warren's reputed connection to Schock. Yet Moeller, also tied to Schock throughout the election, received the second highest number of votes in a crowded 10-candidate field.

Warren said that was perplexing and he didn't feel he voted any more in line with Schock than most council members who vote based on the recommendations of staff.

Nonetheless, Warren said he learned a lot in his time on the council and felt like he accomplished good things while he was in office. Now it's a new council's turn.

"The three that got elected, they're very capable, they're very talented and they're going to do a great job," Warren said.

The city expects the new council members to take their places at the April 27 meeting.