New leadership in several Lake County communities set to tackle issues
Be it better access to local leaders or availability of information, residents in several Lake County communities — including Lake Zurich, Island Lake, Fox Lake, Round Lake and Wauconda — can expect changes at their local village hall as several incumbent mayors were toppled Tuesday night.
"I want to open it up more. Be more friendly to the community," said Charles Amrich, who throttled incumbent Mayor Debbie Hermann in Island Lake in what was among the most lopsided wins Tuesday night.
"I want them to ask questions. It wasn't `for the people'," he said of the village's current elected leadership. Legal fees and finances also will be issues for Amrich, who served as mayor from 1985 to 2005. His advice to newly elected mayors?
"Listen to your constituents who put you in office."
In Fox Lake, where an incumbent hasn't been able to hold onto the top elected spot for years, Trustee Donald "Donny" Schmit upended incumbent Ed Bender.
His to-do list has three immediate items: a town-hall meeting; hiring a director of community development; and, restoring at least limited service for the senior/handicapped/low-income bus service.
"The other item was open government," said Schmit, a lifelong village resident. "To have a much more open government where people have a voice in our town. That was the biggest complaint."
In Round Lake, political newcomer Dan MacGillis, who defeated incumbent Jim Dietz for village president, said exhaustive door-to-door campaigning worked well for him and running mates as a manner of introduction. It also gave him a sense of what residents want.
"Without a doubt we kept hearing what's been happening the last four years — nothing," MacGillis said. Residents also wanted a better response to questions or concerns from their local officials, he added.
That is particularly true of a proposed garbage transfer station in neighboring Round Lake Park, which MacGillis contended has been under consideration for years. The village board recently came out against the plan.
"People didn't like that they weren't informed," he said.
Tom Poynton, a trustee in Lake Zurich the past six years who ousted incumbent Village President Suzanne Branding, said the top spot is a key source of information flow.
"I won't keep things a secret," he said. "I think you'll see a new era of transparency."
Mayors who weathered a challenge, such as Frank Loffredo in Lake Villa and Larry Hanson in Antioch, agree those traits are a recipe for success.
"Do a lot of listening," counseled Hanson, who was re-elected to a second term. He said it is important to get along with board members but there is more.
"The residents are key," he said. "They are your bosses."
Loffredo coasted to a fifth term, handily defeating challenger Mona Mustafa.
"You just have to get the public to buy in, keep them informed and do the planning together," he said. "Community first."
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