When you're involved in local politics as long as Judy Abruscato has been in Wheeling, you can make enemies. And you can also make solid friends.
Abruscato, who is seeking a second term as village president, served on the village board from 1987 to 2009, running twice in the 1990s against former village president Sheila Schultz, now one of her staunchest supporters.
Abruscato is out in the village at ceremonial events, but also does the nitty-gritty work, said Schultz.
"I remember a very, very warm day in Chamber Park when we were working on an ice cream social fundraiser together. The temperature dropped 20 degrees, and we had to scramble and get hot coffee," she said.
"The Fourth of July celebration is very important to (Abruscato), and we would be walking to the event carrying cans to collect money to pay for the fireworks."
But besides the appearances and the behind-the-scenes work, Abruscato knows Wheeling residents and appreciates that their diversity is a strength, Schultz said.
Perhaps most important to Schultz, she says Abruscato understands better than her two opponents how the village manager form of government should work.
"The board sets policies and the staff administers," Schultz said. "She understands the proper role of the village president, and how professional administration works to the advantage of the village in decision making."
Abruscato wants residents to understand how difficult it is to accomplish campaign promises, especially when other government agencies are involved.
For example, she said it took about eight years to get a left turn along on Route 83.
Accomplishments she is proud of during her years of service include setting a discount on garbage disposal for senior citizens, obtaining the village's train service and the improvements on Milwaukee Avenue.
Whenever Abruscato makes an appearance, she mentions the low vacancy rate in the city's industrial areas and the "jewel" that is Chicago Executive Airport, owned jointly by Wheeling and Prospect Heights.
And she spearheaded a program to give businesses funds to improve their facades and signs.
"It improves the community and what we look like," she said.
Flood control projects, high on the agenda of many residents, require cooperation from federal officials, she said.
"I can't promise I will get such things done; I promise I will continue to work really hard on them," she says.
Abruscato says she hasn't accomplished these things alone.
"What we have done we did as a team," she said. "We're here to help 40,000 people and do what we can to have a better place to live and watch out for the community's tax bills."
The village president, who is 78 years old and still working as a manager of the Wheeling branch of MB Financial, is seeking re-election because there are major projects she wants to finish.
These include development of village-owned properties along Dundee Road and a fire station on McHenry Road to serve the west side of the village.
Her campaign website is electjudy.com.