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Article posted: 2/22/2013 4:54 PM

Lake Zurich mayoral candidates offer suggestions for improving community

Mary Black, left, Suzanne Branding, center, and Thomas Poynton, right, are candidates in the race for Lake Zurich mayor.

Mary Black, left, Suzanne Branding, center, and Thomas Poynton, right, are candidates in the race for Lake Zurich mayor.

 
Mary Black is a Lake Zurich mayor candidate for 2013.

Mary Black is a Lake Zurich mayor candidate for 2013.

 
Suzanne K. Branding is a candidate for Lake Zurich Village President

Suzanne K. Branding is a candidate for Lake Zurich Village President

 
Thomas Poynton is a 2013 Lake Zurich mayoral candidate.

Thomas Poynton is a 2013 Lake Zurich mayoral candidate.

 
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Lake Zurich's three mayoral candidates have each come up with what they consider to be a good idea that no one else is discussing to help better the community if they are elected.

Incumbent Suzanne Branding is being challenged by Trustee Tom Poynton and Mary Black in the April 9 election. All three have addressed issues ranging from downtown redevelopment to the possibility of bringing Lake Michigan water to the village in Daily Herald editorial board endorsement interviews and on candidate questionnaires.

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When asked for one good idea to improve the community that no one else is talking about publicly, Poynton said he would reverse what he sees as a "dramatic reduction" in public discussion of issues vital to the village. He said official advisory boards and committees have faded under Branding, replaced by task forces accountable only to the mayor.

"We have a tremendous amount of talent in our community in a variety of occupations, from marketing and finance to organizational and project management," Poynton said. "We need to tap into that talent and get them more involved in running the village. They all have expertise and opinions. When elected, I will restore the channels through which our residents can have greater participation and impact."

Black, a real-estate broker seeking an elected post for the first time, said she supports having a village summer music festival, complete with vendors, either weekly or every other week.

"I think Lake Zurich should do more to develop the artistic community in Lake Zurich, including possibly seeking local volunteers to implement minor improvements such as planting flowers in the downtown area," Black said.

Branding said she believes looking into "re-purposing" village-owned buildings in a special taxing zone downtown is one good idea no one else is talking about.

In August 2001, village trustees approved what's called a tax increment financing district to lure developers, but nothing significant has occurred since then because of the weak economy and other factors. Such a district means any gains in property tax revenue from the area it covers goes to help fund development costs rather than to local governments such as school districts.

"The village could work out an arrangement with a developer (or) tenant to bring the building up to code and that would be part of the tenant's rent," Branding said. "Currently, empty buildings that the village owns is an expense for the village in taxes and maintenance. Re-purposing would bring businesses into the community at no expense to the taxpayers and make use of stock in place before being torn down and new buildings built."

Branding landed on the Lake Zurich village board when she ran with Poynton on a political slate in 2007, but two have since drifted apart politically. She defeated incumbent John Tolomei and Scot Unger to become mayor in 2009

Poynton captured his second, 4-year trustee term in 2011, so he'll remain on the village board if he loses in the mayor's race.

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