Lael Miller, a first-term trustee in East Dundee, has confirmed his intention to run for village president against incumbent Jerald Bartels, who says he'll seek a second term.
Miller, 53, says he's running to bring a "different style of leadership" to the board, one he says will focus on team building and on being proactive -- things he says are missing in the current administration.
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Although Miller and Bartels agree on most policy matters, Miller takes issue with what he characterizes as Bartels' involvement in divisive personal matters.
For example, Bartels tried to remove Frank Scarpelli from the plan commission Monday, over Scarpelli's involvement in a deal to take Wal-Mart out of East Dundee and build a bigger store on land his family owns in Carpentersville.
There were not enough votes to make Scarpelli's removal happen, and Miller was one of the trustees who voted against it.
Miller said those proceedings, initiated by Bartels, were a distraction that did not need to reach the board. Miller said he would have instead had a conversation with Scarpelli about the deal before trying to kick him off the commission.
"I think things like that are divisive when we start going after our own people as opposed to what we are going to do next," Miller said.
By getting involved in petty issues, he added, the village loses sight of the bigger picture. As an example, Miller pointed out the village board only recently hired Bob Skurla to be village administrator after two years of working as its interim.
Bartels, 44, said Skurla's contract waited while the village was involved in various property deals. He added that the contract is retroactive and can extend beyond the village president's term.
Bartels also makes no apologies for his decision about Scarpelli, whom he says is not working in East Dundee's best interest.
"I think asking Mr. Scarpelli to step down was the right thing to do," Bartels said. "Mr. Miller disagrees and I guess if you're looking for a difference between the two, there's one."
Miller noted that Bartels' involvement in a feud between former Village President Dan O'Leary, neighbor Patrick Clarke and their two wives was also unnecessary.
Bartels sent a letter to O'Leary, asking him to remove his items from a piece of village-owned property adjacent to the O'Leary land or else he'd face fines. Miller knows of other residents doing the same thing as O'Leary and yet they never received a threatening letter from Bartels, he said.
Bartels accused Miller of simplifying the issue, as the village didn't know about it until the Clarkes brought it up. If Miller knows of people committing similar violations, he should say something, Bartels said.
"I don't believe that the O'Learys are a protected class," Bartels said. "They should be treated like everyone else and obviously, Mr. Miller disagrees."