In announcing Friday he won't run again in two years, outspoken Schaumburg Township Highway Commissioner Robert Fecarotta defended township government even as he criticized particular aspects of it.
Fecarotta said his early decision not to seek a fourth term was based on his nearing completion of all the road improvements he originally intended, as well as a personal belief in term limits.
"There's no reason for me to run again," Fecarotta said. "I mean it from the bottom of my heart -- I'm not a politician. My father, who was a police officer, always said, 'When you're given something, do the best with it, but nothing lasts forever.'"
Of course, Fecarotta made a similar announcement in the middle of his last term before he changed his mind and ran again. On that occasion, though, his initial reasons for not running again were the increasing demands of his full-time job as an electrician -- a job he ultimately lost due to the economic downturn.
Fecarotta is quick to defend township government against the frequent calls for its elimination. He said Cook County would not do as good a job as his township in looking after unincorporated roads -- that the money for this would be easily diverted to other things. He also believes townships are better suited to the task of looking after the interests of an area's elderly and disabled.
But he does fault many townships for their partisan nature and the perks he feels too many officials receive.
Fecarotta applauded a recent Daily Herald article examining the health insurance benefits of township officials -- a benefit he's refused throughout his three terms, even with the temptation caused by his unexpected unemployment a couple years ago.
Fecarotta, a Republican, also suggested that ensuring members of both major parties are on a township board would provide an objective voice on all a township's actions.
He felt Democrats don't come out enough for local elections -- his explanation for why the area has elected two Democratic state representatives in Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates and Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg, while former Democratic Schaumburg Township trustee Sue Giannone was replaced by yet another Republican.
"She was fantastic," Fecarotta said of Giannone. "She would volunteer at the township every Friday. She would help with the seniors."
Schaumburg Township Supervisor Mary Wroblewski shared Fecarotta's support for township government, but not necessarily his criticisms.
She said current officials inherited the present insurance system but that questions over its continuation would be discussed down the road. She added that one has to look at the whole picture in how government agencies differently divide their resources between pay and benefits.
Wroblewski said she, too, always believed in term limits but came to realize that voters have the power to impose limits on anyone not doing a good job. "I think it's always good to have some new blood on a board. It gets you away from thinking there's only one way to do things."
As far as the partisan nature of township government, it only really comes into play, she said, on the rare occasions, like now, when an appointee to replace the late trustee Richard Taccini must be a Republican as he was.
Even when Giannone was on the board, Wroblewski said, discussions of issues took place until some consensus was reached, just as with today's all-Republican board.