Even though Island Lake has been mired in political squabbling for years, the candidates running for seats on the village board have positive visions of the town's future.
Five of the six trustee candidates shared their long-term goals for the village Monday during a pair of interview sessions at the Daily Herald's Libertyville office.
One sees long-vacant storefronts filled with thriving businesses; another expects the town will become a community of friendly people, like its motto prescribes. A third envisions a town where police officers spend more time out of squad cars and talking with residents.
Mark Beeson, Tony Sciarrone and Keith Johns are running as part of the For the People slate and gathered first. Ken Nitz and Ed McGinty, two of the candidates running under the United for Progress banner, met with Daily Herald staffers next.
A third United for Progress candidate, Josh Rohde, was unable to attend.
Johns wants the town of 8,000 to return to being a friendly community. He scoffed at the thought of Island Lake becoming a bustling town like Arlington Heights, where he grew up.
"I moved away from there because I didn't want to live in a community of 70,000 people," Johns said. "If I wanted to be in a big community, I'd have moved to one."
Sciarrone said he expects Island Lake's population to reach 12,000 or 14,000 within the next 15 years. He'd like to see some of the now-vacant storefronts filled with businesses in the years to come.
Beeson wants Island Lake to keep its "small-town feel," too. He'd be happy if Island Lake's population never exceeds 20,000 people.
One way to keep that friendly environment, he said, is to encourage police officers to spend more time out of their squad cars. He even referenced Mayberry, the fictional small town from the classic "Andy Griffith Show."
"When I moved into town, the police used to get out of their cars all the time and talked to people," he said. "(Today), the cars just scoot right on by.
"They don't even wave. They don't stop."
McGinty said more economic development is needed to bring in more revenue, which could then allow officials to improve the local parks and recreational facilities.
"Economic development is the biggest key to driving Island Lake into a better community for everyone," McGinty said.
Nitz stressed economic development, too. Extra tax revenue from local businesses means more money for parks, lake maintenance and road construction, he said.
It also could help officials lower property taxes, he said.
"We don't want the people to shoulder the entire burden of the town," he said. "We want to get those businesses in there to shoulder that burden with other people."
Nitz also envisioned officials adopting green energy tactics in the years to come. When pressed, he suggested village leaders may want to consider installing energy-efficient LED headlights on vehicles.
All of the seats carry 4-year terms.