Editor's note: This is the first of three profiles on the men running for Arlington Heights village president April 9. On Tuesday: Mark Hellner. On Wednesday: Ron Drake.
For 22 years Tom Hayes has been the quiet trustee sitting next to Arlington Heights Village President Arlene Mulder. He makes motions to approve items on the agenda, gives his opinion on issues and when Mulder is unavailable he slides over one seat and fills in for her as president pro tem.
Thomas HayesAge: 56
Family: Married, two children
Education: Prospect High School; U.S. Military Academy at West Point; DePaul University College of Law
Civic involvement: Member of The Drive to Revive Memorial Park and Veterans Memorial Committees (2007-present)
Elected offices: Arlington Heights Trustee, 1991-present; Village President Pro Tem, 1999-present
Top 3 campaign issues*:
Ÿ Providing a high level of essential services at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer
Ÿ Empty storefronts, necessitating aggressive retention and attraction programs
Ÿ Aging infrastructure and facilities; neighborhood flooding
* Full candidate questionnaire at www.dailyherald.com.
In a few weeks, Hayes, 56, is hoping the voters in Arlington Heights will elect him to sit in that chair for the next four years, as the first new mayor the village has had in 20 years.
The road to election day has been different for Hayes this year than in his many previous campaigns. In the past he had to be among the top four vote earners to gain a spot as trustee, but now the man who many say is uncomfortable with politics but good at governing, is facing direct competition.
Mulder described her longtime colleague as "a true gentleman," and said that while he may be quiet during meetings, his contributions over the years have been vast, citing the legal expertise he offers in closed session meetings.
"He is a man of integrity," said Mulder, who has endorsed him to replace her over housing commission member Mark Hellner and former Avondale, Ariz., Mayor Ron Drake. "He may sit in a meeting and say very little but if he has something important to say, he'll say it. He doesn't just talk to be heard."
"He takes things in. When he speaks up you know that he's thought about it a lot first," agreed Hayes' West Point roommate and longtime friend, Bill Fairfield of Hawthorn Woods.
That calm temperament masks excellent leadership abilities, Mulder said.
"When we need someone to step up and lead, he's there," she said. "He is very fair, he is honest and he is respectful. I have no reservations on the kind of leader he would be."
Behind the scenes, she said Hayes has been a team player -- once volunteering to clean up at a trustee-sponsored dinner event because his cooking skills weren't up to snuff, she remembered.
Along with Mulder, all five candidates for the village board have endorsed Hayes in the April 9 election.
Hayes said his quiet nature is intentional, and if elected his style will be to guide the board's discussions on issues and then sit back and listen to all sides as he tries to build consensus.
Over his 22 years on the village board, Hayes said he is most proud of the reputation of honesty and integrity the board has been able to establish. He believes he also assisted Arlington Heights weather the economic downturn by helping the board establish priorities.
In the mid-1990s Hayes was a major proponent of forming a teen center, one of his biggest accomplishments at the time. However, when finances were squeezed a few years ago, Hayes was one of the first to support closing the teen center, because, regretfully, it was not an essential village service.
"I think it was very important and it met a need at the time, but I was also willing to sacrifice the program for the needs of the community at a later time," he said.
An attorney by trade, Hayes is an avid runner. He is in training for his 23rd marathon, which also happens to be his ninth Boston Marathon.
He runs the streets of Arlington Heights early in the morning before shaking hands at the train station or heading into his office in Chicago.
The Boston Marathon falls on the Monday after the election.
"At that point the election will be behind us and I can focus on running and letting it all go," he said.
The West Point graduate said he has enjoyed staying in shape ever since his years in the Army and that pounding the pavement is a good stress reliever.
"On a 20-mile run, you have time just to think and be away from everything else going on," said Hayes, who was born and raised in Mount Prospect.
Going into the Army was a natural decision for Hayes, whose father and uncle also served. He spent five years on active duty and 17 years in the Reserves before retiring in 2001 as a lieutenant colonel.
From 1978 to 1981 he and his wife, Sue, were stationed in Germany, where their daughter, Tara, was born in a U.S. Army hospital. His son, Tim, was later born in an Army hospital in Kentucky.
After his active service, the Hayes family lived in his father-in-law's apartment for four years while he went to law school at DePaul. Hayes would study in a closet of the small two-bedroom apartment because it was the only quiet place he could find.
"It was interesting, but we got through it," he said.
Tom and Sue Hayes met at Prospect High School, when she was a sophomore and he a junior. She made the first move by asking him to the turnabout dance and they later had their first official date at the old Arlington Heights movie theater just north of the tracks. They have been married for 34 years.
Hayes coached his son's baseball and basketball teams, got involved as a church group leader and was a Sunday school teacher before he first ran for village board in 1991, the same year Mulder was elected to the board. Hayes is a member of Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights and has said his faith informs many aspects of his life.
Hayes is not up for re-election as a trustee this year, and so will remain on the board if he loses the race for mayor. He said if he loses he will continue on the board and do what he thinks is best for Arlington Heights.
"He is dedicated to everything he goes after, from running to government," Fairfield said. "He is the most honest and ethical guy you'll ever meet."
Serving on the village board and now running for village president are just an extension of his service, that began when Hayes was a teenager and was accepted into West Point Academy, he said.
"I don't enjoy the politics of this," he said. "But I do enjoy the service."