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updated: 1/23/2013 7:37 PM

Cary mayoral candidates disagree on ex-manager's exit

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  • Bruce Kaplan, left, and Mark Kownick, right, are candidates in the race for Cary Village President in the 2013 Election.

    Bruce Kaplan, left, and Mark Kownick, right, are candidates in the race for Cary Village President in the 2013 Election.


Cary's handling of its long-departed village administrator was still fresh in the minds of the two men vying to become village president during their recent Daily Herald endorsement interview.

Mark Kownick, who served on the board from 2009 to 2011 and then lost his seat, owns a facility services company. He's running because he likes to be part of the process and in the know of what's going on in the community.

Bruce Kaplan, a trustee in his first term, says he looks for wrongs and tries to right them. When he ran for the board two years ago, he was upset about having to pay higher fees to post his real estate signs in town -- fees Kownick later had a role in reducing or waiving.

"I felt like I was shining a bright light in a dark room and watching the cockroaches scatter," Kaplan said of the feeling he had when he started asking questions of the village. He ran as part of a four-person slate that demanded transparency and was elected.

One of the village's biggest wrongs, Kaplan said, was the severance package the previous board gave to Cameron Davis, who was village administrator for 16 years.

Davis was terminated in 2011 and received six months pay -- including a 1.7-percent cost-of-living increase -- and a lump sum of $47,500 for accrued vacation, personal, sick and comp time.

The village also agreed to pay Davis' retirement benefits for six months and his health benefits for a year, whether he received a new job. Davis' annual salary was $134,139, and he is now village manager in Homer Glen.

Kaplan, a real estate agent, says the severance package was excessive and that the timing of Davis' ouster -- before his group took office, was suspicious.

"It appeared as if Cameron Davis came to the seated board and asked to be fired," Kaplan said.

That left the new board with the decision of whether to hire a replacement while still paying Davis. Cary ultimately waited several months before hiring a replacement.

Kownick said everything Davis received was in his employment contract and he wouldn't change a thing.

He also acknowledged it was better for Davis to leave before the new board took office because some of the new trustees had problems with Davis.

"We didn't want the new board to deal with something ... and quite frankly, we didn't want the board to be drug through a smear campaign," Kownick said. "He's a highly professional man, and he deserved what he got. It was fair to us, and it was fair to him."

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