Crowded race for Rolling Meadows mayor as Prejna tries to retain seat

Four candidates have announced or are considering a run for mayor of Rolling Meadows, setting up what's expected to be a crowded April 2019 municipal election ballot.

Incumbent Len Prejna, who won a three-way race for mayor in 2017, is expected to rematch against Dave Whitney, a member of the city's planning and zoning commission who finished last in the previous mayoral election.

Also planning to campaign for mayor is Alderman Joe Gallo, elected to the Ward 4 city council seat in the last election and a vocal opponent of fire station relocation plans.

Longtime Alderman John D'Astice of Ward 6 said he's "seriously considering" a bid for mayor, and is expected to decide in the coming weeks.

Candidates in local races already have started circulating petitions, and must file between Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 to get on the ballot.

Prejna, a former alderman who ran for a two-year mayoral term after former Mayor Tom Rooney's appointment to the state Senate, said he plans to focus on the same issues as he seeks a full four-year term: economic development, lowering taxes and infrastructure.

He previously advocated for replacing only one fire station - not both - but his view hasn't been supported by a majority of the council. In light of escalating costs to build the two new stations - at least $13 million at most recent estimates - Prejna in September suggested giving voters the right to approve any future city borrowing by referendum.

Gallo, who called Prejna's proposal "a day late and a dollar short" in regards to the fire stations, said if elected he would work to "pause" the project. He said he believes the project has been mismanaged by the city's building contractor.

Though he's long considered Prejna a family friend, Gallo said the city needs stronger leadership. And, he's encouraged other residents to run for aldermanic seats to change the face of the council.

Seats will be up in Wards 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7.

"There's a certain homogeny there I'm trying to change," Gallo said. "We need to redefine whose opinion is important, and it's definitely not the individuals sitting up on the dais."

Whitney, who retired in January as a telecommunications manager, touted his experience in managing conflicts on the corporate level, saying he could help the city council come together.

"Nobody's getting along at all. There's all kinds of infighting and they're not communicating," said Whitney, a regular attendee of council meetings. "I think it's impacting the progress of the council."

Whitney promises to be a full-time mayor and devote extra time to economic development efforts - in particular, meeting with commercial realtors to try to attract new businesses to town.

Rolling Meadows chooses Prejna as mayor for two-year term

New Rolling Meadows fire station will cost more than expected

Rolling Meadows mayor wants voters to decide on future borrowing

Rolling Meadows prepares to borrow $13 million for fire stations

Joe Gallo
Dave Whitney
John D'Astice
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