Argiris allies on Wheeling board cautiously celebrate election wins
Wheeling trustees re-elected to the village board were muted in their celebration Wednesday, lamenting the ouster of their leader, Village President Dean Argiris, whose re-election bid was tinged with controversy over his use of taxpayer-funded perks.
Trustees Ken Brady, Mary Papantos and Mary Krueger also said they considered voter turnout abysmal, with 12 percent of registered voters casting ballots.
"Voter apathy is alive and well," Krueger said.
And the incumbents, who managed to edge out challenger Donald Lee Waller while campaigning with Argiris, had questions about Horcher's leadership style.
"I'm a little disappointed," Brady said. "We lost our leader."
Yet the trustees remained hopeful Horcher, a former trustee and longtime resident, will build on achievements under Argiris. They pointed to Argiris' involvement with numerous municipal boards and organizations as evidence of his efforts to put the village at the forefront.
"Dean has a passion that is met by none," Papantos said.
When asked whether Papantos has seen the same passion in the Horcher, she said, "Personally, no, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist."
Horcher, who is not as gregarious as Argiris, admits his interest is in reading lengthy proposals or analyzing budget line items. Shortly after claiming victory at an Election Night party -- which Horcher was hesitant to host because he prefers avoiding attention -- he wanted to talk about mundane budgeting practices.
Still, Horcher argued his experience as a Cook County Farm Bureau board member, visiting politicians in Springfield and Washington, D.C., to push for agriculture-centric policies, will translate into the outgoing qualities trustees appreciated in Argiris.
Despite running opposite the trustees during the election, Horcher predicted cooperation.
"I don't expect any trouble," he said. "I think there might be some angst or concern. Change is scary."
The trustees said they aligned with Horcher on issues of attracting industry and retail business to the village, but they criticized other campaign proposals, such as halting pay increases for high-level employees.
Throughout the campaign, Horcher argued salaries for village employees should align with taxpayers' salaries.
"I don't expect these guys to be giving up salary. I'm pretty pragmatic and I understand that," Horcher said. "I would just like them to take a moment and look at the salaries of the people who are paying them."
Brady said skilled village employees improved the village, and losing them to other communities could jeopardize progress.
"We're on the doorstep of a lot of successful things coming to town," Brady said.