Remembering Mount Prospect Mayor Robert Teichert
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After becoming disillusioned about local government operations, a young, idealistic Mount Prospect trustee by the name of Robert D. Teichert rode to victory in 1969 as the village's eighth mayor over incumbent Daniel Congreve and his United Economy Party.
It was said to be one of the hardest fought political campaigns in the village to date.
Teichert would lead the village as mayor for two terms, until 1977, following his service as trustee from 1965 to 1969. During the campaign, he vowed to return the village to conducting its business openly and to keep citizens informed, a philosophy that was initiated by Congreve's predecessor, C.O. Schlaver.
Upon his election, Teichert said the village was about to experience a time of transition and cited the need for the completion of a blueprint for the next 10 to 20 years to determine its future growth with land acquisition, completion of a comprehensive survey, and intra-village bus routes among the issues that were going to be addressed.
During Teichert's two terms, Mount Prospect saw its greatest growth, both in territory and population. In 1970, he called for long range planning to overcome the "deficit financing" practices that had previously been used to implement village programs.
The following year, the village exceeded the 25,000 population threshold to become a home rule community, and Teichert exercised that authority to double the tax rate to keep up with the growing financial demands of the village.
Although often characterized as a controversial, independent leader, Teichert still realized many accomplishments. These included alleviating flooding problems in Hatlen Heights by deepening and widening Weller Creek, constructing several retention basins near Lincoln Street and Meier Road, and new sewer facilities.
He initiated a successful drive for a manager-council form of government born by referendum in 1967, which he ultimately cited as his most important achievement.
However, he was also watchful about the size of the village's government, noting it was already too big with 15 commissions or boards, plus a handful of ad hoc committees.
Teichert also had the foresight to push for subsidized housing with the construction of Huntington Commons. This headed off potential legal problems for Mount Prospect, as other municipalities were being brought into court for not having enough minority housing.
Frustrated by a lack of downtown development, Teichert pushed for construction of the six-story bank building to provide new life. He also began a paramedic program, started a central dispatching system, and expanded programs for senior citizens.
Teichert also authorized engineering work for the signalization of the "dangerous" Central Road and Northwest Highway intersection at an estimated cost of $94,000. In addition, Teichert advocated extending Busse Road north of Central Road and Northwest Highway through Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, which had already been on the drawing board for 20 years. That extension was never built.
In 1971, Teichert was elected president of the Northwest Municipal Conference and proactively built up its infrastructure to "play a more responsive and aggressive role in meeting the needs of its 15-member communities," including hiring a paid, professional staff.
Keeping with his policy of open, honest "good government," in 1974 Teichert disclosed his annual income because he believed in full disclosure by elected officials.
Teichert's backing of the United Village Party for its "hard work" and "commitment to sincerity" in the 1971 election would pay off as he would later be elected to a second term as part of that party. He won a three-way race, but it was a bitter and divisive election campaign.
An investigation of voter fraud was promised by one of his two opponents, Trustee Michael Minton, who never conceded but did eventually admit defeat after Teichert won by nearly 2,200 votes.
The tide seemed to turn during the 1975 village board race, however, when Teichert's hand-picked United Citizens Party slate was defeated by a group of independents.
In 1977, Teichert announced he would not seek re-election, citing his desire to spend more time with his family.
Part of Teichert's downfall involved his use of $4 million in bonds to finance the "controversial" Mount Prospect Public Library and his purchase of a new village hall without a referendum in 1975.
He also sought to obtain veto power, which neighboring cities enjoyed, but villages like Mount Prospect did not. He gained that power and his one and only veto was used for the village's $9 million budget in 1976-77 because there were not enough funds to operate the library.
Library financing had also been at issue during the 1970-71 fiscal year, when a request for an increased library appropriation was denied by the village board.
In his nonpolitical life, Teichert was a patent attorney for Ekco Housewares Company in Chicago and used his retirement to take up wood carving.
In 1990, he was named the first Honorary Chair of the Mount Prospect Historical Society. He had previously collaborated with the Historical Society for the village's 1976 bicentennial celebration, which resulted in a school museum at St. John Lutheran Church and municipal museum under the water tower.
Despite his unorthodox stands on many issues, Mayor Robert Teichert seemed to always believe he was acting in the best interests of the residents of Mount Prospect.