Not many candidates for office in Wheeling can say they live and work on a farm -- on McHenry Road across from the Walmart, no less -- but Pat Horcher does.
Horcher, a candidate for village president, is a florist who manages the greenhouses for his family business. The farm has been in the family since 1848. His part of the family, which includes his five brothers, owns 50 acres and another relative holds an equal number.
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Life on the farm has led Horcher to being concerned about the ecology of the village, said Steve Stecker, a deacon at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Wheeling and a friend.
"For example, he has always paid attention to the different creeks in the village and flooding problems," said Stecker.
Horcher espouses this stand on his campaign website, saying he works to support conservation and antipollution initiatives as a member of the board of the Cook County Farm Bureau and believes "farmers must be good stewards of the land."
Horcher, who served 16 years as a trustee before leaving the village board two years ago, said he originally ran for office because the family had difficulty with the mixed uses of residential, commercial and agriculture after their property was involuntarily annexed to the village.
Understandably Horcher also advocates for businesses in the community, calling for "more carrot, less stick."
He wants the village to offer all the tax benefits possible, including tax increment financing, to entice large companies that will pay big tax bills, and he would also like to see incentives to encourage local businesses to use each other's services.
The village is practicing deficit spending, taking funds from its contingencies, said Horcher. Unessential items such as $250,000 for tree planting and memberships in organizations should be cut from the budget, he said. He also called for raising the village's share of the property tax consistently when it's necessary -- rather than face large increases some years.
In 2008 and 2009 Horcher and the other two candidates for village president, incumbent Judy Abruscato and Trustee Dean Argiris, agreed to each be interim president for eight months. Horcher said the first thing he did when it was his turn was reduce powers he said the office held illegally. Now, he would rein in the board's discussions.
"There needs to be more direction, and the board needs to stick closer to the issues," said the candidate. "You can see in the (video) archives. When they're talking about approval for a complex, the board starts talking about the color of bricks and the sidewalks and how deep the detention pond should be. The question is should the complex be there or not?"
Horcher proves his appreciation of diversity in the village by getting to know residents and what makes sense to them rather than just instituting regulations, said Stecker.
"He knows the people who have lived here many, many years, and also gets to know the people that have only been here a few years or a few months," said Stecker.
Horcher's campaign website is pathorcher.com