Mundelein candidates all tout need to boost local businesses, downtown area
The need to improve Mundelein's business climate -- especially in the downtown area -- was the overriding theme of a candidate forum Tuesday night.
Time and again, answering question after question during the hourlong discussion at Mundelein High School, the four village trustee hopefuls talked about their desires to boost the local economy and fill vacant storefronts in the area.
And as all four candidates have been entrepreneurs, they talked about how their experience would help them accomplish those goals.
Dakotah Norton, Paul Roscoe, Bill Rekus and Kerston Russell are running for three seats on the village board in the April 7 election.
Rekus was the first candidate to address the downtown area, saying in his opening remarks that the downtown "remains stagnant." A plan commissioner in town, he pledged to make spending more village funds on improving that area a priority.
"I think they (current officials) lost a little bit of focus in the downtown," Rekus said.
Norton, a blogger who runs a local indoor farmers market, said his experience working with nonprofit groups would help him find solutions for the business community.
Roscoe, an electrician and firefighter, said revitalizing the downtown area will be a personal priority if he is elected.
Russell, who works in sales, said he thinks creating a downtown performing arts center would help the area.
That type of center has been proposed for the former village hall building on Hawley Street -- and Russell is a big fan.
"It would attract people from throughout the county to come here and spend their money," he said. "That's the kind of destination this town needs."
All three seats have 4-year terms.
The forum was organized by students in Mundelein High's AP American Government and Politics classes. Those teens moderated the forum, too.
In addition to the town's businesses, they asked the candidates about the village's budget, street repairs, the community's ethnic diversity and other issues.
One question -- would the candidates support the recent removal of a plan commission member who had been critical of the village staff -- surprised the candidates and drew groans from the audience.
Roscoe said he would have voted to sack Commissioner Ray Ladewig. Russell said he would have had trouble making a decision and didn't say how he would vote.
Rekus and Norton both said they would have voted to keep Ladewig on the commission.
The three board seats are open because incumbents Terri Voss, Ed Sullivan and Robin Meier opted not to seek re-election.