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Article updated: 1/29/2013 7:44 PM

Fox Lake mayoral candidates say hiring economic development director the top priority

By Lee Filas

Both candidates running to be Fox Lake's next mayor said their number-one priority would be to bring in an economic development director.

Incumbent Mayor Ed Bender and his challenger, Donald "Donny" Schmit, agreed during a recent candidate endorsement interview at the Daily Herald that the hiring is a requirement to generate business in the village.

Bender is a retired executive from Grainger, while Schmit is the owner of a tunneling company.

The two -- along with their slates -- are facing off in the upcoming April 9 election.

Bender heads the Focused on Fox Lake Party, consisting of incumbent trustees Val Griseta, Kevin Burt and Jon Mumford and clerk candidate Kimberly Mate. Schmit leads the Common Sense Party, which features trustee challengers Bernice Konwent, Ron Stocl and Jeff Jensen and clerk candidate Niki Warden. Bob Hoffman is also on the ballot as an independent candidate running for trustee.

Both mayoral candidates said their top priority is to fill the empty storefronts in Fox Lake, adding the village needs to do a better job of marketing itself to developers.

Schmit said there needs to be better communication from one village department to others in order to operate more efficiently.

"I read about a new hotel proposal in the media," he said. "I want to make Fox Lake a destination for companies to do business. We need to be more developer friendly."

Bender said he would have hired an economic developer four years ago, but wanted to get the village finances in line before hiring a qualified candidate.

"We didn't have the money in reserves to be able to do that four years ago," he said. "Now that we have reserve money in the bank, it's one of my top priorities."

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