Hayes wants to lead 'next phase' in Arlington Heights
Tom Hayes will be the first new mayor in Arlington Heights in two decades, but he's no stranger to village government.
Hayes was unofficially elected to be the next village president of Arlington Heights on Tuesday night with more than 45 percent of the vote, a sign he said that the people want a continuation of the leadership he has provided in Arlington Heights since first being elected to the board in 1991 -- the same year as outgoing Mayor Arlene Mulder.
When Mulder announced in September 2012 that she would not run for another term, Hayes said he decided to run to give the village "a steady hand" as it transitioned to the next chapter. Hayes has served as president pro-tem for Mulder, filling in when she is absent at meetings and other events.
"I'm really very humbled by the confidence the community has shown in me to be the next mayor of Arlington Heights," Hayes said from his victory party at Peggy Kinnane's in downtown Arlington Heights.
As Arlington Heights continues to recover from the recession and works to fill several vacant storefronts, officials said Hayes' election will be good for the business climate in town.
"We're excited to be able to work with Tom as our next mayor," said Jon Ridler, executive director of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, which did not endorse a candidate in the race. "One of the things Tom has said is that there is always room for improvement and that's something we like as a chamber."
Ridler has been working with Hayes on a new joint proposal between the village and the chamber to hire a new employee whose focus will be on small business development and retention.
"(Hayes) is going to bring the history and background of the last 20 years, but he also will be his own man and his own mayor," Ridler said. "He has his own vision for Arlington Heights and we look forward to that."
Mulder, meanwhile, said she is confident in her successor and that she thinks the village will be in good hands when she leaves public service after three decades next month.
"I've always trusted the voters of Arlington Heights and I think they made a good decision again," said Mulder, who endorsed Hayes. "They've elected the best person to lead this community into the next phase."
Mulder said she and Hayes have worked as a team, with the rest of the board, for the past 22 years to make Arlington Heights as successful as it has been.
Hayes' opponents reacted to the outcome of the election differently. With all 64 precincts reporting, Ron Drake, the former mayor of Avondale, Ariz., had 3,842 votes and Mark Hellner, an attorney and member of the housing commission had 2,346. Hayes had 5,236.
Hellner said he was disappointed, but that he was glad to bring up serious issues in the campaign such as the village's pension liability and plans for a new police station.
"It came as no surprise that we were rolling uphill for the entire campaign," he said.
Drake called Hellner a "spoiler."
"The common thought was that Mark Hellner was in the race to offset the anti-Tom Hayes vote and it worked," he said, adding that he thinks without Hellner in the race he would have won.
"I'm not the least bit surprised he would say that, but he's absolutely wrong," Hellner rejoined.
The only new person elected to municipal government Tuesday was Jim Tinaglia, who came in second for trustee. Tinaglia is an architect with his own business in town and is on the design commission.
"I'm so thrilled and so excited. I want to be a voice that is a little bit different and try to make some improvements," Tinaglia said. "I want us to be a village hall that all works together in a little better fashion. Sometimes the ball gets dropped here or there and maybe I can help with that."
One place where Tinaglia said he hopes to have input is with the designing of the new police station, which with a price tag estimated at $40 million has raised concerns among residents.
"I think I can bring a lot to that dialogue," said Tinaglia who has been on the design commission for the past 12 years.
Another yet to be named trustee will be joining the board to fill the remainder of Hayes' term, which ends in two years. Hayes said he has not yet thought about who he will appoint for that seat.
Meanwhile, the question still looms about who will be on the village board as the race between Bert Rosenberg and Norm Breyer for the fourth seat up for election on Tuesday came down to the wire. With all 64 precincts reporting, Rosenberg is ahead by 22 votes, but he says that's not enough for him to claim victory.
Mail-in, absentee and provisional ballots will be counted in the next few weeks before the results are certified. No matter the makeup of the board, Hayes said he is confident that the nine members will be able to work together.
"We are not just going to preserve, but advance and enhance the quality of life in Arlington Heights," he said.