When it comes to improving life in Mundelein, the three candidates in the town's mayoral race cited customer service and the ongoing redevelopment of the downtown area among their priorities.
Mundelein Park District Trustee Wally Frasier believes the village hall staff needs to be more customer-friendly, particularly when it comes to helping business owners who want to locate in town.
Village Trustee Robin Meier was focused on the staff, too, saying consistency and accountability are needed in village hall.
Village Trustee Steve Lentz took a different approach, saying officials need to focus on the village's downtown business district and continue a redevelopment effort there.
Frasier, Meier and Lentz are seeking to replace Kenneth H. Kessler as Mundelein's mayor in the April 9 election. Kessler is stepping down after two terms.
The candidates met in a joint endorsement interview at the Daily Herald's Libertyville office earlier this month. They were asked about the town's future, the local economy and other issues.
Frasier, a former police chief in town, believes village employees need to be more customer-friendly, particularly when dealing with prospective businesses.
More businesses coming to town will produce more jobs and tax revenue for the village, Frasier said, so the staff should focus on its service skills.
Village employees who deal with residents should improve their efforts, too, he said.
"We need to be sure that all village employees realize that they work for the residents and the businesses in town," he said. "If we have people who are customer-friendly and try to assist and help people, we make it a place where people want to live and work."
Lentz, a trustee since 2009, disagreed, calling customer service a "very minor" issue.
Instead, he suggested officials need to focus on the development of what's generally known as the downtown area, a section of the village east of Route 45 and south of Hawley Street.
In the works for years, a centerpiece of the redevelopment is the proposed construction of a new village hall and other buildings on land near the town's Metra station.
"We need a new downtown," Lentz said. "We have that going, but we're going to have to keep that moving."
Previous revitalization efforts in the area focused on the construction of wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and the installation of old-fashioned streetlights and other aesthetic improvements. Lentz said Mundelein needs a downtown "that has a sense of place, that people want to go to."
He also cited street repairs as a key concern.
Like Frasier, Meier said officials and staff need to focus on customer service. Consistency at village hall is needed, she said, as is a greater sense of accountability.
"If you're not meeting the needs of your residents and businesses, you cannot accomplish the revenues you need and fix the services," said Meier, a trustee since 2008.
If employees improve how they do business with customers at village hall, Meier said, it will improve the town's image.
She said she's spoken to many residents who said they moved to Mundelein because they couldn't afford to live elsewhere.
"That's not the answer we want to hear," she said. "We want to hear, 'Because the services are great, because the people are friendly, because it's easy to go out and get a permit, because it's easy to do business here.'"