Fox, Morris hope to bring change to Island Lake board
The morning after she was elected to Island Lake's village board, Shannon Fox joked with fellow candidates and a photographer during a photo shoot at village hall.
But Fox also knew the job ahead of her is a serious one.
For the last few years, Island Lake's board meetings have been among the most contentious in Lake County, with Mayor Debbie Herrmann and the trustees fighting about the most trivial of issues. The mayor's even sued the four-member board majority over what she alleged are illegal efforts to reduce her executive powers.
Fox sees her win Tuesday as a sign residents want change.
"I think first and foremost, everybody just needs to take a step back and take a deep breath," she said.
With ballots in all 12 precincts counted, Fox and slate-mate Thea Morris topped a field of six candidates in the race for three seats on the board.
The fate of the third seat remains unknown. Candidates Allen Murvine and Charles Cermak -- both members on a rival slate endorsed by Herrmann -- tied Tuesday.
Provisional and late-arriving ballots cast by mail could decide the race and will be counted in two weeks. A coin flip would determine the winner if the tie persists.
Morris, Fox and the eventual third winner will replace outgoing trustees Don Saville, Don Verciglio and John Ponio. Saville and Ponio have been largely critical of Herrmann, while Verciglio has been allied with her.
None of them sought re-election.
Like Fox, Morris is focused on getting the board and the mayor working for the good of the people. Her first order of business, she said, is "returning civility to the boardroom."
Morris was particularly disturbed by the use of profanity by some trustees and the mayor at recent meetings. People shouldn't have to worry about covering their children's ears at board meetings, she said.
"I'm truly confident that if we each rise to the occasion, we can work as a team again," Morris said.
Herrmann wanted to have the new members join the board this month, but by state regulation, newly elected trustees take office in early May. A special board meeting could be called for that event, rather than waiting for the regularly scheduled meeting on May 12, Herrmann said.
"I just don't see the point (in waiting)," she said.
The new board needs to get to work on some important issues, she said, such as setting the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins May 1.
Fox believes she and Morris will bring a "calming demeanor" to the often fiery board. She said she is open to compromise and won't stick to an opinion just to make a political point.
"I have absolutely no need to be right (all the time)," Fox said.
Morris expressed a noble goal for the new panel.
"I want this to be something my family and friends and the village can be proud of," she said.
Trustee Donna O'Malley said she expects kind words and not finger pointing at future meetings. If that happens, "we'll be able to get a lot done," she said.
Trustee Connie Mascillino said she met with Fox, Morris and Murvine on Wednesday morning and hopes the next board will work together better than the current incarnation.
"I think the people who won do want to move the village forward," Mascillino said in an e-mail. "(I am) very hopeful that this could be a new beginning for the board and the village."