Whether the rebuilding of Streamwood's government over the past 24 years is exactly what the village needed or whether it still lacks important outreach is at the heart of this year's village president race.
Incumbent Billie Roth and her challenger, longtime Trustee James Cecille, headlined a candidates forum Monday night at the Poplar Creek Public Library.
It is Cecille, who unsuccessfully ran against Roth when she first won the presidency in 1989, who is raising the question of whether her service to the village goes far enough.
Cecille said he sees a lack of communication, collaboration and transparency in the village's interaction with its residents and surrounding local governments.
He said it really came home to him while attending a regional political breakfast at which state Rep. Fred Crespo and state Sen. Michael Noland -- both former political rivals of Roth -- spoke about how much they enjoyed working with Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates and Hanover Park but didn't mention Streamwood.
"I kind of took that personally," Cecille said. "We cannot afford that kind of leadership."
But Roth countered that she has worked on regional issues -- with Crespo and Noland, in fact -- and has received state money from both legislators for improvements in the village.
She added that the efficient, fiscally responsible Streamwood of today is a far cry from the village she inherited.
"Our budget is balanced; we have money in our reserves," Roth said. "We've been building a better Streamwood."
The two candidates compared strategies for making the village more attractive for businesses, with both agreeing that the imminent opening of Fresh Express on the former Duraco Products site is a coup for the local economy.
But while Cecille favors re-examining the village's prohibition of video gaming -- calling it a boon for The Assembly restaurant in Hoffman Estates -- for Roth it remains a definite "no."
Nevertheless, Roth said the next five years will be critical for Streamwood. With the economy seeming to have started a recovery, the recent success with Fresh Express seems to signal a good time to start remarketing the village to commercial developers, she said.