McLaughlin looks ahead to Barrington Hills presidency
A day after his upset victory over two-term Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud, president-elect Martin McLaughlin said his intentions remain the same as during his campaign -- to return the village to the normal business of providing services cost-effectively.
McLaughlin said he'd considered divisive debates over outdoor lighting regulations and commercial horse boarding to be manufactured and unnecessary, and believes voters ultimately agreed.
"There were a lot of exhausted, weary residents who were just looking for someone to represent them," McLaughlin said. "We need someone to actively heal the divisions. I don't think we need to do anything great here. We just need a deep breath."
McLaughlin said he never considered the race to be personal and hopes he can turn to Abboud as a resource in the future.
Given the perceived strength of Abboud's campaign, McLaughlin said he never counted on more than being a messenger.
"I thought I would define issues," McLaughlin said. "The outcome was a pleasant surprise."
While McLaughlin would like to give the village a fresh start, he realizes there's few times when that's entirely possible. The village remains in the midst of addressing important issues such as the proposed Insurance Auto Auction site in neighboring East Dundee, the long lingering lawsuit over covenants governing the Sears property in Hoffman Estates and mediated negotiations toward a police contract.
McLaughlin believes the fact East Dundee voters also elected a new village president -- Lael Miller -- provides opportunity for a fresh start for talks about the auto auction proposal, which he considers a threat to the aquifer Barrington Hills residents use.
McLaughlin disagreed with his predecessor's aggressive approach to East Dundee.
"Shaking hands isn't a bad way to start, instead of shaking fists," McLaughlin said.
He also hopes to reach a settlement on the Sears lawsuit and examine the police department's pension system, which broke away from the state's several years ago.
Senior Village Trustee Fritz Gohl, who won re-election Tuesday, said he's keeping an open mind on working with the new president, whom he's not yet met.
McLaughlin will be joined on the board by two new trustees, Gohl's running mate, Michael Harrington, and McLaughlin's running mate, Colleen Konicek Hannigan. Though he's unfamiliar with McLaughlin, Gohl knows Konicek Hannigan very well.
"I know where she's coming from because she's a Barrington Hills lifer like me," he said.
Having worked with both Abboud and the late Jim Kempe, Gohl said he knows the approach to the village president job has a lot to do with each president's personality. He agrees with McLaughlin's assessment that new leadership in East Dundee offers new opportunities for negotiation over Insurance Auto Auction.
Gohl is less certain McLaughlin will find any obvious places to cut the village budget short of laying off workers, and said he welcomes professional insight of the new president and Harrington on managing the village's police pension fund.
More challenging will be the village's change of leadership in the midst of police contract talks, Gohl said. The new contract will be one of many areas in which the new president will likely experience a baptism by fire.
"It'll be interesting to see what happens," he added. "He'll be learning as he goes."