Ron Drake, an Arlington Heights resident who formerly led a Phoenix suburb as its mayor, hopes to do the same in his current hometown.
Drake, 54, said Monday he will be running for Arlington Heights village president in the April 2013 consolidated election.
The mayor of Avondale, Ariz. from 2000 to 2006, Drake said he felt a pull to get back into public service after learning that longtime Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder would not be seeking another term.
He said his experience running a similar town -- a suburb of a major city with a population about 75,000 and an international sporting venue, The Phoenix International Raceway -- makes him a good candidate to lead Arlington Heights.
"I definitely understand what it takes to do the job in a way no one else running does," said Drake, who works in advertising in Chicago.
Drake grew up in Mount Prospect and graduated from Hersey High School before going to Northern Illinois University. His family moved to Arizona in the 1990s, but he and his wife returned to Arlington Heights in 2007. He said the desire to lead and serve is in his blood. Drake also ran for Congress in Arizona in 2006, but was defeated.
Drake said he would focus on economic development if elected, including trying to fill the many empty storefronts from closed businesses around town.
"You see a lot of businesses closing, so I think there's an opportunity for someone like myself to enhance what's already been done," he said.
He said he also would not want to raise taxes and that any major project should be revenue neutral.
According to Village Clerk Becky Hume, the only other person who has picked up a nominating petition for village president is longtime trustee Thomas Hayes. Hayes was first elected to the village board in 1991 and serves as the president pro-tem, filling in for Mulder when she is absent.
Through Drake said he hasn't been a presence at Arlington Heights village board meetings, he said he has gotten in the habit of reading the minutes online to see how the meetings work. He and his wife went through the Arlington Heights citizen police academy and are members of the alumni organization.
"I know what it's like to host international events and have the eyes of the world on your town," Drake said of the Phoenix International Raceway, which hosted several NASCAR events while he was mayor. He said his experience would help him work to keep Arlington Park as a major venue in the area.
"Hopefully we can get the economic development engine roaring again and keep the taxes down so people can afford to stay in Arlington Heights," Drake said.