Barrington Hills president candidates tout experience in and out of village

The two candidates for Barrington Hills village president on Saturday touted their respective credentials to voters: one, experience within village government, and the other, outside experience that he said would bring a new set of eyes to village hall.

Brian Cecola, a 6-year village trustee and self-employed business owner, and Dennis Kelly, the Barrington Hills Park District board president and local insurance broker, exchanged opinions during a virtual forum co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area and the Barrington Area Library.

Cecola is endorsed by outgoing Village President Martin McLaughlin, who asked him to run after winning the state House 52nd District race in November. Cecola said during his tenure on the board and as chairman of the public safety and roads and bridges committees, the village has lowered its tax levy and cut spending, while ramping up its road repaving and sealant rejuvenation program.

"I love this community. This is my passion. My motto is 'I serve,'" Cecola said. "I want to continue on the path the village started eight years ago. It's a great path and I want to be part of that."

Kelly, on the park board for the last eight years and the former board chairman of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce, said if elected he would emphasize transparency and participation by residents, listening to "what they want, not what the government thinks they want."

"I have the leadership qualities and the experience to bring maybe a new set of eyes to the current administration's past eight years and take a look to see what's been done, what maybe can be changed and what can be improved," Kelly said.

On the issues, the candidates agreed on quite a bit: both don't want Lake Michigan water, they'd favor upgrading the broadcasts of village board meetings, and they support reinforcing the village's borders per intergovernmental agreements with neighboring municipalities.

But they exchanged differences about what the village could do to clamp down on short-term rentals, following the March 7, 2020, fatal shooting at a house party.

Kelly said the village's residential zoning code should be revisited and tightened to address short-term rentals and prevent any issues from happening in the future.

Cecola said he's comfortable with the village's existing zoning rules because short-term rentals are already prohibited under village ordinances.

"That party was on notice the night beforehand from our attorneys. They decided to have that party anyway. They were notified that was illegal when it came up on the website," Cecola said.

Brian Cecola
Dennis Kelly
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