Hoffman Estates candidates begin talking issues
Hoffman Estates residents will have at least one reason to go to the polls April 7 when three incumbents and two challengers vie for the three available trustee seats on the village board.
Former Trustee Cary Collins and political newcomer Prajesh "Pat" Patel are looking to wrest two of the seats away from the united front of Trustees Anna Newell, Gary Pilafas and Gary Stanton.
Collins was never shy about expressing his opinions during the 7½ years he spent on the board before his resignation in November 2010, and little has changed with his return to the campaign trail four years later.
Collins said his resignation tied into his belief in term limits and that no one should serve more than eight years in office. But his time away justifies a return next spring, he added.
In fact, he's already considering a run for mayor in 2017.
"I'm not afraid to be critical of things I don't think are right," Collins said. "If you're there too long, you're drinking the Kool-Aid and then you think everything you're doing is right."
Among the things he thinks should be happening is a different approach to aggressively marketing the village-owned Sears Centre Arena. He's proposing that every Friday and Saturday the arena should have a country-western theme in which events such as rodeos, monster trucks and wrestling can be counted on by fans.
"There's no facility serving that group," he said.
He also believes that many of the issues talked about in closed session during his time on the board should have been discussed in open session. And he remains critical of what he describes as the difficulty in getting information from the village on such topics as the ability to run for office.
Pilafas, now seeking his third term, said the village is happy with the running of the Sears Centre by Global Spectrum and General Manager Ben Gibbs.
Gibbs already is booking as many of the events Collins is suggesting as he can, and ensuring the Sears Centre is always making money by selling highly demanded ice time for $325 an hour during every otherwise idle moment.
Pilafas said every time the village board has gone into closed session during his tenure on the board has been for a legally justified reason.
Pilafas said he, Newell and Stanton plan to support each other in the campaign, even though they have some differences of opinion.
"I think the three of us offer a good balance," he said.
Stanton also disagreed with Collins' criticisms. He said Global Spectrum's new incentive-driven contract will keep the Sears Centre active through all sorts of events and activities.
"We assume it will be done because they have incentive to do it," he said.
Stanton said he has no desire to run for mayor in two years and that he, Pilafas and Newell will make four-year commitments to the trustee seats if they win re-election.
Addressing Collins' complaint about candidates not receiving enough information from village hall on how to run, Village Clerk Bev Romanoff said the only documents her office is required to provide are for the declaration of candidate committees. Anything further carries the liability of providing wrong information or outdated forms, which has happened in some other communities.
Newell and Patel could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Collins said that while he intends to run an independent campaign, he thought he'd also help out Patel as a first-time candidate.