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updated: 3/5/2013 10:51 AM

Wauconda trustee candidates revisit their priorities in interviews

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Moving away from the choreographed answers they supplied on questionnaires last month, the candidates for seats on Wauconda's village board cited a variety of issues when they were asked to talk about their campaign priorities during recent interviews.

The trustee hopefuls running under the United Wauconda banner are incumbents John Barbini and Lincoln Knight, and newcomer Wade Meyer.

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The rival One Wauconda slate features trustee candidates Teri Burke, Chuck McEwen and Manuelita Vargas. All three are newcomers.

Most of the candidates on each slate gave remarkably similar answers when asked to talk about their three top priorities in Daily Herald questionnaires. Only Vargas didn't share answers with her slate mates.

Their answers were more original when the question was posed a second time in subsequent discussions at the Daily Herald office in Libertyville and in follow-up interviews.

Vargas wants village officials to make a list of all the security cameras in parks, on roads and in other public locations around town. The list should be distributed to people, she said.

"It could go out in the newsletter," Vargas said. "I think they'll feel safer."

When asked if the village should add security cameras to public locations, Vargas said, "I don't think it would be a bad thing."

Meyer cited economic development in town as his top goal. The village needs to continue marketing itself to attract new business owners and consumers, he said.

Meyer also supports efforts to create a public brand for Wauconda, an approach being considered in other suburbs.

McEwen, a vocal critic of recent changes to the village's water billing process, said changing the way bills go out and get paid is his top priority.

McEwen wants to reduce late fees and increase the time people have to pay the bills. He also advocates making online payments a free process.

"I think it's outrageous that you (are) charged a fee to pay your bill electronically," he said.

Burke was most concerned about the water bills, too. She criticized the new 20-percent late fee as "exorbitant."

The bills now go out monthly instead of quarterly. Proponents say that promotes more accurate bookkeeping.

Burke acknowledged the monthly billing "probably" is easier for village staff.

"But I don't think it's necessarily better for the residents," she said.

Knight was asked to talk about his top issue in an email, and he targeted the village budget. Serious planning and spending cuts -- including staff cuts -- have kept the village in the black, he said.

"But (we) still maintain our residents' core services police, water, sewer, streets," Knight said.

The board and staff know monitoring the district's finances is a priority, he said.

Barbini was asked about his top campaign priority in an email, too. Like his slate mate Meyer, he cited economic development as the key issue of the race.

Barbini said he supports the goals of the village's strategic plan, which include developing user-friendly approaches for attracting and retaining businesses and developing a marketing plan and a community communication program.

The implementation of the strategic plan helped maintain the overall number of businesses in town during the recent recession, Barbini said.

"Wauconda is now positioned to take advantage of the improving economy as a result of this long-range planning," he said.

The United Wauconda slate also includes Mayor Mark Knigge and Clerk Virginia Irwin.

The One Wauconda slate also includes mayoral candidate Frank Bart and clerk candidate Gina Strelecki.

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