At an East Dundee candidates forum conducted by the Elgin Area League of Women Voters Tuesday night, Lael Miller, who hopes to unseat Village President Jerald Bartels, called his opponent's attendance record into question.
Miller, a trustee, did an analysis of meeting minutes that he said shows Bartels has missed 24 board meetings in the last three years, a figure he said is equivalent to missing an entire year's worth.
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Miller said he's personally only missed four meetings in four years.
Miller also called Bartels out for being the only board member to vote against freezing the recent property tax levy.
"I agreed our residents deserved a break," Miller said as his reason for voting for the measure.
According to Bartels, Miller is incorrect about the number of meetings missed -- he estimates he has missed 20 percent of the board meetings.
"I am a family man. I have three teenage kids," Bartels said. "I also travel for a living so it is true that I do not make every meeting ... but the meetings that I have not attended I will, if possible attend via phone conference."
Bartels also explained why he voted against freezing the tax levy.
"I saw that as symbolic because it was $6 per household per year (increase)," Bartels said. "To me, I didn't know that that was something to be cheering about."
The forum also included challengers Dan Selep and Kirstin Wood, who are running for trustee. Incumbent trustees Rob Gorman and Paul VanOstenbridge, as well as challenger Mark Poynor, were unable to attend Tuesday's forum. Seven people were in the audience.
Wood, who has been attending meetings regularly since January, said she is running to increase community involvement that she says is sorely lacking in the village. She would like to see more community events, board meetings that take place outside of the board room and inside businesses, where free coffee and ice cream could be offered.
"I'm a big proponent of less Facebook time and more face time," Wood said. "Our society right now is so engrossed in social media that we forget how to speak to people."
Selep, who says he has been to eight board meetings, said his main goals in office, if elected, are to bring a Starbucks, Wi-Fi and LED streetlights to the village.
East Dundee has red light cameras posted at routes 68 and 72 and also at routes 25 and 72 and the candidates have varying views on whether they are necessary.
Wood was the only one of the four candidates against them, but acknowledged she'd gotten a red-light ticket when someone else was driving her car. She was also less than impressed with the appeals process.
"There's better ways to increase revenue and quite frankly, sometimes I think those red light cameras ... can possibly cause accidents because people slam on the brakes and they're doing things they wouldn't normally do if they're driving cautiously," Wood said.
The next League of Women Voters candidates forum is scheduled for tonight. It will feature the candidates running for office in West Dundee.