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Article updated: 4/10/2013 5:18 PM

Ousted E. Dundee mayor blames 'smear campaign' for loss

By Lenore T. Adkins

East Dundee Village President Jerald Bartels, unseated in Tuesday's election, says losing is a part of life and that he has no issues with being ousted from office.

But he does have a problem with the "smear campaign" he says took place the week before the election in the form of two letters and one flyer.

Bartels, 44, lost the election to one-term trustee Lael Miller, 53, by 19 votes, according to unofficial results.

The materials sent out claimed Bartels missed 29 board meetings since 2010, called his support for the controversial Insurance Auto Auctions meeting into question, noted that he was the lone trustee who voted to increase the most recent tax levy, said he voted for a car tax and that he voted twice to raise local sales taxes.

"Absentee Village President Bartels doesn't have the courage to admit he's raised your taxes and doesn't regularly attend meetings," one letter read.

"Don't re-elect 'no show' village President Bartels," the flier read.

The flier was paid for by Common Sense for Dundee and doesn't indicate who belongs to the group. The letters did not reveal who created them.

Bartels responded by mailing out a letter of his own that responded to the claims made in the fliers.

He admitted he voted for the tax levy and noted that any levies that have passed have averaged $5.

As for the sales tax hikes, Bartels said the flier was likely referring to the creation of business development districts in the village that charges an additional .5 percent sales tax on sales within those areas.

With respect to the car tax, Bartels said the board created an auto transfer tax in response to the IAA project, which means the village would get $10 per vehicle sold at the auction.

As for his meeting attendance, Bartels said he has missed "some" meetings, but nowhere near 29.

At the end of the flier, Bartels encouraged his supporters to vote for him.

"It would send a message to this faceless group that this brand of "Chicago style" politics has no place in East Dundee," Bartels wrote.

Moreover, Bartels is convinced Miller was behind the flier and letters. He said the information was one of the reasons he lost, and in his opinion, Miller didn't run a clean campaign.

"I'm proud of what I did, I can sleep at night," Bartels said. "The question remains, how is it for him?"

But Miller says he wasn't behind the letters or the flier and that he actually took heat from the public about them.

"It makes me look bad by association, even though I had nothing to do with it," Miller said, adding that he thinks the negative fliers cost him votes as well because in his view, people thought he endorsed those campaign materials.

Bartels was a village trustee from 2001 to 2005, and was elected president in 2005. Two years into his term, Bartels stepped down due to new job duties. He was elected president again in 2009.

Miller takes over as village president in about a month. Once Bartels leaves office, he'll have more time to spend with his family, his job and at his church.

But in the interim, Bartels said he'll put his feelings aside and keep things professional with Miller.

But he's not ruling out a rematch.

"I'll watch to see how things go over the next couple of years and if I get concerned about the direction the board's going and feel that I can offer some different approach or help it move back into a better direction, that might be something I'd consider," Bartels said.

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