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posted: 4/3/2013 2:05 PM

Wheeling Township candidates debate taxes, highways in heated campaign

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  • Mike Schroeder, Republican candidate for Wheeling Township supervisor.

      Mike Schroeder, Republican candidate for Wheeling Township supervisor.

  • Fred Arenas, Democratic candidate for Wheeling Township supervisor.

      Fred Arenas, Democratic candidate for Wheeling Township supervisor.

 
 

With a full slate of Democrats and Republicans facing off in Wheeling Township for the first time in years, election season has gotten heated as both sides try to make their ideas heard.

Democrats have put out a number of statements with promises ranging from lower taxes to eliminating the highway department if they are elected April 9.

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"For the first time we have a really robust, full slate of people and we have a lot of ideas we want to get out there," said Democratic trustee candidate Siobhan White. "We want to win."

But incumbent Supervisor Mike Schroeder, running for re-election as part of the Republican slate, said he thinks those promises are more about winning a campaign than running township government.

"They have a tendency to do this, slash and attack," he said. "I found it a bit disingenuous to talk about lowering taxes when really the township deals with one percent of the property tax bill. If they really wanted to lower the property taxes for everybody they should be running for school boards."

Democrats are running Fred Arenas for supervisor, Marc Adelman for clerk, Don Bussey for assessor, Mike MacDonald for highway commissioner and Kim Simmons, Nikos Tsonis, Bob Boros and White for township trustee.

On the Republican side, the candidates are Schroeder for supervisor, Joanne Gauza for clerk, Jerry Sadler for assessor, Scott Saewert for highway commissioner and Mike Domrzalski, Kathy Penner, Ruth O'Connell and Robert Hoban for township trustee. All the Republican candidates are incumbents except for Hoban and Gauza.

If elected, the Democrats say they will lower property taxes and expand hours at the township office to help provide more social services to those who need it. They're also pledging to let residents determine what happens with the township highway department.

"Once elected we will work toward giving voters the right to decide the future of their highway (department) with a referendum," Boros said. "We'll also try coordinating with unincorporated residents and local villages to develop positive annexation agreements which would remove roads from the township's jurisdiction."

Schroeder said he agrees with eliminating the highway department, but it is something that will take time.

"When I took office in 2001, I said that would be a priority and then we had 9.3 miles of unincorporated road," he said. "Now we have about 5.1 miles. If there was a mechanism to do it faster we would have done it a long time ago."

Democrats also are putting forward the idea of a township Economic Council to help businesses and jobseekers.

"Creating the Wheeling Township Economic Council is a common sense idea and incredibly cost-effective for taxpayers," said Arenas, the party's supervisor candidate. He said the council would work with local chambers of commerce, villages and other entities.

Schroeder, a former trustee and village president in Arlington Heights, said he doesn't think that is the responsibility of a township.

"We want the business community to thrive, but that is not the role of the township," he said, labeling the idea "irrelevant."

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