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Article updated: 11/19/2012 11:27 PM

Abruscato will seek new term in Wheeling

By Deborah Donovan

Judy Abruscato will run for a second full term as Wheeling village president, and at least two members of the village board whose terms are expiring will also seek re-election in April.

Bill Hein and Ken Brady will seek re-election as trustees. The third trustee whose seat is expiring, Dean Agiris, would not comment on his intentions. Elaine E. Simpson will seek another term as village clerk.

Other candidates also will run for both offices.

Former Trustee Pat Horcher, who served 16 years on the village board and several months as acting president, said he also will seek the presidency. He criticized the board for several years of failing to raise property taxes to deal with $40 million in bonds issued for the new village hall and other major projects.

"That's what happened to America -- they kept pushing debt forward," he said.

Horcher said one major job he sees is making meetings more focused. He pointed out that the village president does not have veto power, and the powers of the office are limited.

Abruscato said her priorities are developing sites where the former Wickes and Kmart stores stood and building a new fire station for the north side of the village.

The village is trying to develop a Town Center on the site of the Wickes store near the train station and village hall south of Dundee Road.

"I am running for re-election to continue to make this a safe and good community for the businesses and people of the village," she said.

In the contest to fill seats on the village board, Mary Papantos, who ran unsuccessfully for trustee two years ago, plans to run again. She questions spending on major projects, including the size of the new village hall and the public works building.

The village has spent too much money from tax increment financing funds for work that should be left to developers, she said. She also questions the need for the planned clock tower, fountain and park at Milwaukee Avenue and Dundee Road.

Papantos said she supported the project called Philhaven, affordable housing for people with mental illness, that the board has rejected. The developers have sued the village.

"I am really against lawsuits," she said. "I think they should settle rather than spend all that money."

Brady said the village needs more retail and the sales taxes it brings, and his experience as a retired construction project manager will help achieve this.

"We have everything we need in this community except business. If people don't have to leave town to buy what they want, the property taxes don't have to be raised out of sight," said Brady.

Hein said the village needs to more aggressively work to get properties purchased with tax increment financing funds back on the tax rolls.

"We need to be very careful with what we do," he said. "We have a lot of things on the table right now, and the projects have not come to fruition."

A transportation plan that gets trucks off some streets would help retail in areas like Dundee Road, he said. Hein is also concerned that too much rental housing is planned.

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