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posted: 9/20/2017 11:49 AM

Village's sixth mayor was a journalist, activist, politician

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  • Clarence "C.O." Schlaver was the sixth mayor of Mount Prospect, serving in the early 1960s.

    Clarence "C.O." Schlaver was the sixth mayor of Mount Prospect, serving in the early 1960s.
    Courtesy of Mount Prospect Historical Society

  • Clarence "C.O." Schlaver with Dolores Haugh, president and one of the founders of the Mount Prospect Historical Society, in 1976. This photo is believed to have been taken when the MPHS's original museum on Linnemann Road was dedicated during the U.S. Bicentennial. The society moved to the Dietrich Friedrichs House Museum at 101 S. Maple St. during the 1990s.

    Clarence "C.O." Schlaver with Dolores Haugh, president and one of the founders of the Mount Prospect Historical Society, in 1976. This photo is believed to have been taken when the MPHS's original museum on Linnemann Road was dedicated during the U.S. Bicentennial. The society moved to the Dietrich Friedrichs House Museum at 101 S. Maple St. during the 1990s.
    Courtesy of Mount Prospect Historical Society

  • Randhurst Mall opened during Schlaver's term as mayor of Mount Prospect. It is pictured during its grand opening on Aug. 16, 1962.

    Randhurst Mall opened during Schlaver's term as mayor of Mount Prospect. It is pictured during its grand opening on Aug. 16, 1962.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
Submitted by Mount Prospect Historical Society

Mount Prospect's sixth mayor, Clarence "C.O." Schlaver, was a journalist, activist and politician.

Loathing his time growing up on a farm in Sparta, Wisconsin, Schlaver determined early on that farming was not his future. So, after high school he set out to become a reporter, attending the University of Wisconsin.

After graduation, Schlaver worked as a reporter and editor for the Star-Courier in Kewanee, Illinois, from 1927 until 1943, and later joined the staff of the Chicago Daily News. That is when he came to live in Mount Prospect with his wife, Betty, and three children, David, Paul and Marcia.

During his free time, C.O. was involved in local politics. In Mount Prospect, he was a village trustee for one full and one partial term, first elected in 1955 after being appointed by then-Mount Prospect Mayor Theodore Lams in 1954.

In 1959, Schlaver ran again for trustee as part of the "Good Neighbor Party," a group dedicated to the extension of services in the community. That year, Schlaver received the most votes of the four candidates for trustee.

So, in 1961, Schlaver ran for mayor on a platform of good government and continuing tax reduction. His campaign slogan was "Let's Go with C.O.," and the village did just that, electing him to his first and only term as mayor.

Schlaver believed in the "public's right to know," promoting an "open house" environment at the village hall. Many years of reporting and editing also brought him into intimate contact with all phases of local government and its responsibility to the people.

Consequently, many of the municipal and educational services that village residents have come to rely on today were started under Schlaver's leadership.

By his second year as mayor, the village had exploded to 23,000 people from the quiet village of 4,000 it was when he and his family originally arrived. One of the suburban trends contributing to this growth was the development of apartment buildings, which builders argued they had to build in order to make a profit, due to farmers demanding high prices for their land.

Instead of turning his back on what he said was already occurring, Schlaver annexed apartments to expand the village's boundaries through "proactive annexation" and "planned growth." In that spirit, Schlaver also annexed other areas, including Brickman Manor, Hatlen Heights, Elk Ridge Villa, Lou-Elm, Wedgewood Terrace and the Old Orchard Country Club, where Schlaver had his sights set on developing an 18-story vacation motel and a rim of apartment buildings.

Schlaver also proposed annexing the neighboring town of Prospect Heights, and advocated for a diversified tax base that would encourage business and light industry in properly-zoned areas.

During Schlaver's term, Randhurst shopping mall and the Mount Prospect Plaza opened. By 1963, the nation's largest shopping center and indoor, air-conditioned space had tripled its sales tax revenue from $12,000 to $30,000 per month, which subsidized the refuse fee charged to residents as well as the building of new and deeper water wells to ease the village's water shortages. Mount Prospect Plaza also opened early in Schlaver's term.

In 1964, the village built a new public works garage. A second fire station on the south end of town was completed the following year.

And, in conjunction with the District 57 School Board, Schlaver proposed fencing the east side of Weller Creek to protect the children of Westbrook School.

As the 1965 election approached, Schlaver was met with significant opposition from Daniel Congreve and his "United Citizens Party." Congreve's nine-week campaign leading up to the election contended that residents should have a voice in their local government, including a right to vote on annexations via referendum.

It was a very tumultuous campaign season, with Congreve beating out Schlaver for mayor.

Despite his loss in the 1965 election, Schlaver stayed actively involved in other local organizations. In 1972, he became the executive director of the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce, a position he held until 1979, shortly before his death.

He had served as president of the Mount Prospect Lions Club during the 1959-60 club year, immediately before he served as mayor, and is the only president in the club's history to go on to serve as Mount Prospect's mayor.

Schlaver was also a charter member of the Mount Prospect Toastmasters Club, a member of the board of the N.W. Suburban (now Lattof) YMCA and a founding member of the Mount Prospect Historical Society.

He also served as vice president of the Illinois Municipal League and was a member of both the Chicago Headline Club and St. Paul Lutheran Church. For his efforts, Schlaver was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the Jaycees in 1974.

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