With the candidate filing period well under way, a trio of Lake County mayors has opted not to seek re-election in 2013.
Mettawa's Jess D. Ray, Mundelein's Kenneth H. Kessler and Round Lake Park's Jean McCue will make way for new leaders in their villages.
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In an email to the Daily Herald, Ray said his one term as mayor was more demanding than he expected.
"I was told to expect about 20 hours (of work) a month. It was 40 to 60 a week," Ray, 69, said of the job, which is unpaid in his town. "The most challenging (thing) was making sure I learned as much as I could about our residents so I could ensure the board was representing their will."
Ray narrowly won election in 2009, defeating incumbent Barry MacLean by three votes. He was prompted to run because of concerns about plans for a Costco warehouse store in town.
Ray had sued the village over the proposal and assembled a slate of candidates to challenge what he described as an entrenched and unresponsive local government.
The store eventually was built, but Ray fought for landscaping and other caveats as part of the deal, including discounted memberships for Mettawa residents.
Ray cited those concessions among his chief accomplishments as mayor.
Although he'll be done with political service next spring, Ray pledged to remain active in the community.
He said he'd urge his successor to stay connected to all the residents, do more than is expected and "make residents proud of their government and living in Mettawa."
Kessler has been Mundelein mayor for two terms. The 48-year-old college professor believes it's time for new leadership -- his campaign motto when he successfully challenged Mayor Marilyn Sindles for the job in 2005.
"I really feel it's time to move aside and let another person come in and do their thing, whatever it may be," Kessler said in a telephone interview.
When he ran in 2005, Kessler produced a two-page blue brochure that listed his campaign goals. He still has a collection of them, and he's proud to say most of those points were checked off during his tenure.
That includes modernizing village hall's financial operations, televising board meetings, controlling spending and moving forward with a downtown revitalization project.
"We've actually gotten everything done that was on there, in one way, shape or form," Kessler said.
He served four years as trustee before his stint as mayor. The job, he said, was pretty much what he expected -- except for one political aspect of the post.
"There were more opportunities to herd cats than I thought," he said.
Kessler has no plans to run for office again.
"Right now I'm going to enjoy some free time, and we'll see what comes up," he said.
McCue, 64, was appointed Round Lake Park's mayor in 2006, following the death of Ila Bauer. She was elected to a 2-year term in 2007 and a full term in 2009.
Previously, McCue served on the town's plan commission and then as a trustee from 1992 to 2006.
"After serving in appointed and elected positions for 21 years, it is time to slow down and look forward to retirement," McCue said in an email.
When asked about her accomplishments, McCue talked about helping to create Lake County's first holiday-time Shop With a Cop program 17 years ago. That annual tradition still goes on.
She also touted the redevelopment of the Main Street area, various housing developments and the installation of sidewalks along Route 134 among her favorite projects.
McCue said being mayor has made her a more confident person. But she also learned to depend on others' expertise.
"You can't always solve everything on your own," she said.
Although McCue's elected service will end in 2013, her community service will not.
"I will continue to help with Shop With a Cop and be involved wherever I am needed," said McCue, who owns the Pizza Place in town.
Seats on municipal, school, township, park and library boards in Lake County will be up for election April 9. Candidates must submit petitions to be on the ballot by Dec. 26.