West Dundee board gets youthful infusion
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When William Pflanz, 25, was knocking on doors to drum up votes for his bid to become a West Dundee trustee, at least two people asked him if he was campaigning for his father.
Christopher Nelson, 41, said he was asked how old he is and whether he was even old enough to be the village president.
Daniel Wilbrandt, 28, can relate. When he campaigned for his trustee position, constituents sometimes asked him whether he knew what he was getting himself into if he won.
In the wake of Tuesday's election, an infusion of relative youth and inexperience will soon hit the West Dundee village board. None of the three new members have ever served on a village board before.
Wilbrandt and Pflanz will replace Trustee Norm Osth, who has been on the board for 12 years, and one-term Trustee Julie Voss. Both Osth and Voss decided not to run again.
Nelson will take over for Village President Larry Keller, 69, who has been in office for 16 years.
Though he may be young, Pflanz says his station in life as a recently married man will add more variety to the board.
"Some of the older members aren't starting a family anymore; they all have their families established," said Pflanz, who works as a supervisor at a long-term care facility and is in pharmacy school. "I think it's just me at a different point in my life."
Nelson works in government relations for Comcast and previously worked for the villages of Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates.
He was concerned his youthful appearance would actually cost him the election and worked hard to promote his platform of aggressive economic development, one that clearly resonated with the voters.
"I think it was more the message than anything else," Nelson said when explaining why he won. "I don't think age itself is a particular factor, at least in my case."
While Trustee Tom Price is delighted the group is interested in being involved in the community, he's more concerned about the loss of institutional knowledge and wonders what the impact the new group's inexperience will have on the board.
"To be honest, the age thing isn't even something I've really thought about much," Price said.
There's still plenty of experience left.
Also winning Tuesday was Pat Hanley, a trustee since 2000.
Trustee Andy Yuscka lost his race for village president, but has two years left on his trustee term — he has been in office for 14 years.
Also, Price, elected in 2007, has two more years left on his term.
Wilbrandt, a McHenry County prosecutor, may not have board experience, but he knows what to expect because his father, Larry, was a village trustee for 10 years from 1985 until 1995.
The younger Wilbrandt also spent six summers working for the village's public works department during his breaks from college and graduate school.
Still, he acknowledges that his lack of experience could mean a longer learning curve.
"I've never served on a village board before so. to that extent, I haven't had times I can relate that experience to, but I think who I am is not defined by my age," Wilbrandt said. "I've been a West Dundee resident for 28 years and I think that should have a lot of value and, hopefully, the voters saw that."
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