Sweet McDonnell for North Barrington president
Until now, North Barrington voters haven't had a contested village president race in at least a decade.
Two seasoned local names square off on April 2: Albert R. Pino, a lawyer who's held the office since 2011 after serving for six years as trustee, and Eleanor Sweet McDonnell, a 30-year resident, business owner and veteran of the village fire and plan commissions who ran unsuccessfully for Lake County Board last fall.
Spending and development are overarching issues in the village of 3,000, where much of the population is divided between the gated golf community of Wynstone and the more historic Biltmore neighborhood surrounding Honey Lake.
Sweet McDonnell criticizes the village for spending more than it takes in, citing audits showing deficits of $614,138 in 2018 and $599,680 in 2017. Pino says the village routinely spends less than budgeted and points to $3 million in reserve funds. Still, he would like to find ways to bring more sales tax revenue in a village where commercial development largely is produced by two country clubs.
One focus is 109 acres of unincorporated property at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road. Still undeveloped after several fierce battles over a shopping mall proposal, its future divides the candidates.
Pino in 2012 helped negotiate a deal with Hawthorn Woods and Lake County for a scaled back mall, but it wasn't built. He said no new proposal is on the table and that he prefers retail development, but mentions offices or car dealerships among uses that could come up.
Sweet McDonnell organized a group years ago that opposed the mall. She said housing shouldn't be ruled out for the site, though it is zoned commercial. An author of the village's comprehensive plan, she said the village should be open to sales-tax generating proposals but that residents value open space.
Both candidates have a lot to offer. Sweet McDonnell promises to bring a new energy to village government and to increase communication and collaboration with residents, a worthwhile goal. We also like her pledge to balance the budget. If she believes she can find savings in reviewing contracts and expenditures, we'd like to give her a chance to try.