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updated: 1/15/2013 5:31 PM

Island Lake political activists have ties to village hall, Mayor Debbie Herrmann admits

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  • Debbie Herrmann

      Debbie Herrmann

  • Charles Amrich

      Charles Amrich

  • Tony Sciarrone

      Tony Sciarrone

 
 

Under fire from residents, Island Lake Mayor Debbie Herrmann has acknowledged the people who have challenged the candidacies of two of her political opponents have ties to village hall.

One, Daniel Field, is the co-owner of a company that does computer work for the village. The other, Louis Sharp, owns Sharp Towing, an Island Lake company called upon by police when needed.

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Field and Sharp have objected to the mayoral bid of Charles Amrich and the trustee candidacy of Tony Sciarrone. The cases haven't been decided.

Herrmann confirmed the financial connections as she answered questions from residents during a public comment portion of an electoral board hearing Monday at village hall. The increasingly hostile questions seemed to frustrate Herrmann, and eventually she announced she was ending the dialogue.

That drew even more criticism from the audience, which largely consisted of Herrmann opponents.

"We're getting tired of ... these long grudges," resident Greg Jenkins said.

Herrmann is leading a three-member electoral board that will decide if Sciarrone should be removed from the April 9 ballot.

A slightly different electoral board, led by Trustee Shannon Fox, met earlier in the evening to discuss whether Amrich should be removed from the ballot.

Field and Sharp filed formal objections to the candidacies Jan. 3, saying Amrich and Sciarrone are ineligible to run because of financial debts to the village.

The electoral boards didn't hear evidence Monday night. Instead, lawyers representing the objectors and the candidates used the time to present preliminary documents and to set up additional meetings on Jan. 24.

Amrich and Sciarrone are part of a slate challenging Herrmann and a team of her political allies. They're campaigning with clerk candidate Teresa Ponio and trustee hopefuls Mark Beeson and Keith Johns as the "For the People" slate.

Amrich was the town's mayor from 1985 to 2005.

Sciarrone is a former police officer who served as interim chief from 2008 to 2010. He was demoted to sergeant in 2010 after Herrmann unilaterally ordered a secretive investigation into his job performance.

The investigation and Sciaronne's demotion were among the factors at the heart of a long, public and ugly battle between Herrmann and some trustees.

Sciarrone left the department in 2011.

Herrmann is leading the "United for Progress" slate. She's joined by Clerk Connie Mascillino and first-time trustee hopefuls Josh Rohde, Ken Nitz and Ed McGinty.

Field's name might be familiar to political observers in Island Lake.

Last year, he tried to remove from the ballot a grass-roots referendum that asked voters if they supported the proposed construction of a new municipal complex. He claimed some signatures on the petition were improper or obtained fraudulently.

The referendum had been pushed by critics of Herrmann, including Amrich and Sciarrone, who opposed the plan. Herrmann criticized the question and its supporters.

Before the case could be heard, Field withdrew his objection and the matter was dismissed. The nonbinding referendum appeared on the November ballot, and the proposal was overwhelmingly opposed by voters.

When asked Tuesday about Field and Sharp, Sciarrone said he didn't understand why they were objecting to his candidacy.

Amrich said the conflict of interest is evident.

"The one thing that bothers me is that they don't want the people of Island Lake to have a choice," Amrich said. "And it's sad."

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