Wauconda trustees pledge unity, compromise moving forward
After a year of controversy, Wauconda's village trustees have publicly pledged to work together and seek compromise for the good of the village.
Before debating a handful of items on Tuesday night's agenda, all six board members -- led by Trustee Ken Arnswald -- said they wanted to leave behind the contentiousness that marked Mayor Frank Bart's first year in office.
"We wasted a lot of time the first year," Arnswald said. "You're going to see this board act as a board."
Arnswald's remarks -- made after a few audience members spoke up during the public comment section of the meeting -- drew immediate support from the other trustees.
"I couldn't agree more with what Trustee Arnswald just said," Trustee John Barbini said. "We're not going to get bogged down like we have been for the last 11 months."
Trustee Teri Burke chimed in, too.
"Not working together is not working," Burke said.
The trustees' comments were prompted by meetings last month with a consultant that were designed to improve the effectiveness of the work being done at village hall. The trustees and Bart met with the consultant, from Northern Illinois University's department of public administration, individually and as a group.
But the comments also followed a recent closed-door board meeting that several officials said was heated.
"Things have not gone as smooth as they could've in closed session," Arnswald told the Daily Herald.
The last year has been a politically rocky one for the village. There have been public battles over the town's plan to get drinking water from Lake Michigan, the proposed closure of the police department's 911 center and several key staffing decisions.
The battles haven't been limited to the board's dais. Residents and business owners have repeatedly bashed Bart and occasionally the board members for their actions, and occasionally their inaction.
Much of the criticism has occurred in a Facebook group created last year by some of Bart's critics.
Several trustees addressed the social-media opposition during Tuesday's meeting.
"The Facebook stuff, that's your right, folks," Barbini said. "But I'm telling you right now, this trustee is not going to let Facebook deter him from making a decision which I think is right."
If people don't like the work the trustees are doing, Barbini said, they can vote them out of office in the next election.
Added Trustee Lincoln Knight: "We were elected to do a job and we're doing our job,"
Many of the trustees' remarks drew applause from the audience. Arnswald said he hopes people will applaud again when the board makes decisions the public may oppose.