When Wheeling residents see Dean Argiris confidently commenting on the issues of the day at village board meetings, they're only observing part of his personality, says a longtime friend.
"He has a lot of compassion," said Verra Rudolfi, whose family and the Argirises have been neighbors for years.
"I think he's one of those people that always likes to help people," said Rudolfi, a real estate agent. "My husband works for the Cook County Highway Department, so if he's not around Dean puts the Christmas lights up."
The Rudolfis lived behind the Argirises for eight years in one Wheeling neighborhood, and had to install a gate in the fence because their children were climbing over all the time. Both families were sad when the Rudolfis moved to another neighborhood, but four months later their old backyard neighbors became their new neighbors when the Argirises moved to a home on the same block.
Rudolfi reveals another thing most people don't know about Argiris -- he's always cleaning something.
"We tease him about being the dad with the Windex bottle in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding,' " Rudolfi said.
Ken Brady, who served with Argiris on the Wheeling plan commission before joining him on the village board, appreciates him for other reasons. He said Wheeling needs Argiris's leadership now, with the economy improving and plans for new buildings on the horizon.
"He's a great organizer," said Brady. "Every time something has to get done and Dean gets involved in it, it gets done."
Argiris, running for Wheeling village president against incumbent Judy Abruscato and former trustee Pat Horcher, says that's because, "I'm loud, Type A, passionate.
"My heart's there," he adds.
On the village board since 2001, Argiris's campaign platform calls on Wheeling to improve its infrastructure, like getting a grant for streetlights along Dundee Road and features that would help reduce flooding. He's been out there, helping, when flooding hit the west side, and thinks one step would be helping community associations maintain their retention ponds.
A villagewide flood mitigation program that Argiris said he was involved in, created buildable land along Dundee Road, including where the new village hall sits.
It is "guys like myself" who led the changes in the village's last 12 years, said Argiris, saying tax increment financing districts have helped but should be examined one by one for possible retirement.
"Who'd have thought 12 years ago that Wheeling would have a Westin hotel?"
Argiris also has contributed to some village beautification, including welcome signs, small parks and acquiring blighted properties that mark the entrance to the community.
Argiris said he has been instrumental in getting a $1.9 million grant to help stabilize erosion along Buffalo Creek. And as a three-year member of the Chicago Executive Airport Board, Argiris lists multi-million-dollar improvements there on his list of accomplishments.
Argiris' website is leadingwheeling.com.