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Article updated: 1/28/2013 2:08 PM

Wheaton names newcomer to fill vacant council seat

By Katlyn Smith

A candidate running in an uncontested race to represent Wheaton's east side has been named to fill a vacant seat on the city council.

The council unanimously approved the appointment of W. Thoreson "Thor" Saline to an at-large seat. The position has been vacant since November, when Jeanne Ives resigned after her election in the 42nd state House District race.

Saline, a 48-year-old program manager in DuPage County's department of probation and court services, will serve in the interim position until the April 9 election. The race to take over the at-large seat and complete Ives' term until 2015 is currently uncontested, with John Prendiville running unopposed.

Mayor Michael Gresk recommended Saline's appointment following a "consensus-building" meeting with council members.

"There is a philosophy occasionally where you want to appoint a placeholder, just somebody that will be there for 90 days," Gresk said. "That didn't really appeal to us because in 90 days you couldn't possibly pick up on the issues going on in town."

Gresk said the appointment also allows Saline to get a jump start on the city's budgeting process. The mayor expects Saline to bring a "ministerial style" to council negotiations, owing to Saline's master 's degree in divinity.

"He has a background in government organization at the county level, which I think will serve us at the city level," Gresk said. "I think it's logical, too. Here's a man running unopposed. After the ninth of April, he'll be part of this team, so why not put him on there earlier."

Saline, who's lived in Wheaton for 13 years, said he's been getting feedback from neighbors about the city's strategic plan for the downtown. The city is working with Denver-based Design Workshop Inc. to develop a long-term plan that will detail streetscape improvements, identify gateways and forecast the demand for retail, office and entertainment uses. The consulting firm was scheduled to present findings from several studies and a community survey at a city council planning session Monday.

"They'd like to see a little more aggressive workings rather than just cosmetic changes," Saline said of his neighbors. "They'd like to see some other changes that would actually draw people for a night life."

Saline is running unopposed in a race to succeed Councilman Tom Mouhelis, who has held the East District seat since 2001. Mouhelis is stepping down when his term expires in May.

The council should continue to explore solutions for flooding, and their price tag, said Saline, who hails from an area with "quite a bit of over-ground flooding."

"That's something I'm very interested in to see just how expensive it would be to remedy," Saline said. "Some things are just too expensive or far-reaching for a resolution."

The seven-member council is comprised of two at-large positions, four district seats and the mayor.

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