Endorsement: Swarthout in GOP water district primary

  • Frank "Pony" Swanton, left, and Thomas Swarthout, right, are Republican candidates for North Shore Water Reclamation District, Ward 4, in the 2016 election.

    Frank "Pony" Swanton, left, and Thomas Swarthout, right, are Republican candidates for North Shore Water Reclamation District, Ward 4, in the 2016 election.

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 2/18/2016 7:30 PM

The North Shore Sanitary District goes by a different name since the last time voters elected board trustees to oversee the sanitary system in several communities along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Now called the North Shore Water Reclamation District, the agency is not high profile but provides an important service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Ward 4 Republican primary pits incumbent Thomas E. Swarthout, 60, of Lake Forest against Frank "Pony" Swanton of Lake Bluff. The ward includes some or all of Gurnee, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest and North Chicago.

No Democrat is on the March 16 primary ballot, meaning Swarthout or Swanton could be uncontested for a four-year term in the November general election.

Both candidates have extensive public and civic service experience.

Swarthout, a builder and developer, has been on the district board for six years after being appointed to fill an open seat. His resume includes serving as a Lake Forest alderman for six years and as a Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital board trustee and chairman. Swanton, who is retired, is a former Lake Bluff village clerk and trustee. He is a past president of the Lake Forest Chamber of Commerce.

Swarthout is endorsed because he is a thoughtful trustee who stresses the importance of maintaining the district's fiscal stability -- it is debt free, has a high bond rating and hasn't raised new hookup fees in more than 20 years. He says the district is efficient and cost effective because engineers and managers are allowed to do their work without political interference.

His vision includes continued implementation of new technology, such as considering adding cogeneration power, to hold the line on rising energy costs and increase efficiency for taxpayers.

Swanton identifies controlling costs and increased capacity among the pressing issues facing the district, but offers no further insight and does not make a compelling case to replace an effective incumbent.

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