Editor's note: This is one in a series of profiles of mayoral candidates in the Northwest suburbs.
Hoffman Estates is number one in Bill McLeod's life.
"I live and breathe and bleed Hoffman Estates, and I've always abided by that," he said. "What's in the best interest of Hoffman Estates is more important to me than what's in the best interest to me politically or in my personal life. I've always stayed true to my commitment to the community."
Just two years after moving to Hoffman Estates in 1978, McLeod was serving on the village board. He was named acting mayor in 2000 after Michael O'Malley died and is now seeking a fourth term. His challenger in this year's race is trustee Ray Kincaid.
"It never occurred to me in 1980 when I was 30 years old that I would still be around (in village government)," McLeod said. "There's no big master plan. Life just has a way of working out."
McLeod said his decision to get involved in local government at a young age stemmed from his family's strong interest in politics. He was born in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood and spent time living in other parts of the city, including Garfield Ridge and Rogers Park. After studying history at DePaul University, McLeod became the owner of a paralegal messenger service.
He said being a business owner gave him knowledge in budgets, employee management and law that are useful to him in his current position as mayor.
"Some years were good and some years were not so good," he said of managing finances. "You learned to prepare for the future."
McLeod said he also learned as a business owner that people have different personalities and expectations, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
On the village board, McLeod doesn't see himself as the only leader. He said the members work as a team and he is open to trustees suggestions because, "frankly, someone might have a better idea than I do."
"I believe that everybody on the village board has to pull their weight. I'm one of seven," he said. "You're a servant leader. You don't dictate to people, you don't order people around. You help people to do the best job they can do."
However, McLeod said he realizes he's ultimately responsible for many things and he has to be assertive.
"Sometimes the choices we have as a mayor are bad, worse and horrible and sometimes bad is the best choice you can make," he said.
Outside of village hall, McLeod said he "religiously" goes to block parties and other community events, such as Eagle Scout ceremonies. He believes doing so makes residents comfortable around him.
"It makes you more approachable," he said. "You're a real person."
McLeod has been involved with numerous national, regional and local organizations during his time as mayor and trustee, including the Northwest Municipal Conference, of which he is currently president, and the leadership board for WINGS, a Hoffman Estates-based charity that serves homeless women and victims of domestic violence.
Rebecca Darr, executive director of WINGS, said in the past McLeod and his wife Joan agreed to give silent auction proceeds from an annual mayoral ball to WINGS, sometimes amounting in donations around $15,000.
"I think that says a lot about him as a person. He's a really generous person."
Darr remembers McLeod's leadership when he faced opposition to the construction of the Triphahn Center ice rink.
"Bill had to really step up as a leader to get that project through because there were so many people concerned," she said. "I think if you look at the things he's done over the years, his leadership speaks for itself."
Darr added that McLeod's interest in Boy Scout events and other community celebrations is sincere.
"As an individual, he goes above and beyond to show that he really does care," she said. "It's not for political show."
McLeod said because of his passion for Hoffman Estates, he sold his business and retired in 2005 to more fully dedicate himself to the village.
"I'm an all-in kind of guy," he said. "I don't dabble in it. It's a full-time commitment."
• To see all the coverage of the Hoffman Estates mayoral race, including candidate bios, go to www.dailyherald.com/news/politics/election/race/Hoffman-Estates-Village-President/.