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posted: 2/7/2013 5:05 PM

Mundelein trustee candidates cite gangs, traffic scofflaws among safety concerns

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Some of the candidates for seats on Mundelein's village board expressed unique priorities when asked about ways to improve public safety in town.

Whereas most talked about the continued need for community policing and the dangers of illegal drug use, one proposed re-educating drivers on obeying stop signs. Another said he's heard complaints about motorists cutting through residential neighborhoods to avoid traffic during rush hour.

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Another said people remain concerned about gang activity, an issue that first surfaced in Mundelein decades ago.

Seven candidates, including two incumbents, are running for three seats on the board. All carry 4-year terms.

The candidates are: Dawn Abernathy, a 47-year-old homemaker; Kerry A. Garesche, a 49-year-old lawyer; Gregory S. Jacobs, a 61-year-old veteran who ran for Congress in 2010; Holly Kim, a 32-year-old marketing manager; Alexander Kvasnicka, a 24-year-old engineer; Jim Nutschnig, a 66-year-old retired sales executive who now works for the Secretary of State's office; and Raymond T. Semple, a 51-year-old account representative for a credit bureau.

Semple and Nutschnig are the only incumbents. They are running on a slate that includes Garesche, mayoral candidate Steve Lentz and clerk candidate Katy Timmerman.

The other candidates are running independently.

The candidates were asked about public safety concerns and other issues in Daily Herald questionnaires.

Abernathy was among the candidates who talked about community policing, a program spearheaded by recently retired Chief Raymond J. Rose.

Abernathy said officers should patrol neighborhoods more and not just sit in speed traps for motorists.

"While controlling speed is important, we also need their increased presence in our neighborhoods to maintain the perception that Mundelein is a safe place to live."

Abernathy also raised questions about fire department response times to the east side of town.

Garesche said she spoke with people about public safety and heard complaints about damaged streets, parents who send sick kids to school or without proper vaccinations and a desire for more bike paths.

Additionally, she cited gangs, substance abuse and school safety among her concerns.

Garesche voiced support for the department's community policing efforts, particularly when it comes to gangs and drug abuse.

Jacobs went in a very different direction, saying the town has two chief safety concerns.

"The first is re-educating drivers in Mundelein as to what the red and white octagonal sign is for," he said, referring to stop signs.

Jacobs also proposed a ban on all hand-held communication devices, including cellphones, while driving. Speeding was a concern for him, too.

Kim said her neighbors feel Mundelein is a safe place to live and raise children. She pointed to a recent study by a real-estate group that listed Mundelein among the Top 100 safest communities in the nation.

She voiced no concerns about specific issues.

Kvasnicka said he's heard complaints about motorists cutting through neighborhoods during rush hour.

"This is an indication that the main roads are too congested," he said. He pledged to support projects that will improve traffic flow.

Nutschnig said the continued safety of Mundelein's streets, neighborhoods and schools is the biggest safety-related issue among his friends and neighbors. He praised Rose for the plans and programs he established during his 20 years as chief, and he voiced support for new Chief Eric Guenther.

"I feel very strongly that Mundelein will continue to be a very safe community," Nutschnig wrote.

Semple said people are concerned about "(keeping) the gangbangers out of town," working to keep drugs and alcohol away from kids and ensuring schools are safe.

He talked about how events like the summertime Community Days festival used to be "overrun by thugs and riffraff."

"We do not want Mundelein to go back to the old ways of doing things," Semple said.

The police department, Semple said, has his full support.

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