Editorial: Time for East Dundee board to stop bickering
When the dust settled after the April 6 election, results showed the East Dundee village board would have four new faces -- voters selected Trustee Jeffrey L. Lynam over incumbent Lael Miller for mayor, while three incumbent trustees chose not to seek reelection and were replaced by two newcomers, with one open seat yet to be filled.
This opened the possibility of fresh ideas, fresh approaches and fresh opportunities for the new leadership to collaborate to address problems and identify improvements that would make East Dundee a better place to live work and play. Post-election hope always springs eternal.
Instead, what residents have seen in their new board so far is a body more interested in bickering than business. Lynam and trustees have sparred frequently over how to fill the open seat created after Trustee Scott Andresen told voters he wasn't seeking reelection, no candidates ran for it and now he won't leave. Another distraction was disagreement over how to proceed after the revelation that Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen admitted having an intimate relationship with a subordinate.
The Andresen situation has been marked by dueling legal opinions between him and Lynam. Johnsen was unilaterally fired by Lynam, but was quickly reinstated by a majority of trustees.
It's early in this group's tenure, but this isn't the start residents want to see. It's time to end the squabbling and get down to the job of governing. As mayor, Lynam plays a big role in setting the tone for success, and he and trustees must find common ground to work together even in areas of disagreement.
"We have a very contentious situation and we need to get past that," newcomer Sarah Brittin told our Kevin Schmit. "I don't know how to do that at this point, but we need to get to the business of helping residents again."
Not doing so eventually risks the worst kind of gridlock, where progress grinds to a halt amid cat-fighting while problems and issues mount, opportunities evaporate and lawsuits soak up village funds.
We've seen it happen before. Some 10 years ago, a dysfunctional Island Lake village board became the poster child for local politicians behaving badly. It was a time when little of substance was accomplished, as the board members were more intent on shifting alliances and settling old scores. Then came the lawsuits and legal bills.
Back then, we wrote several editorials critical of the village board and behavior of its members. But the relationship was so toxic, no changes were forthcoming and we pinned our hopes for a fresh start on the April 2012 election that would usher in three newcomers to replace three incumbents not seeking reelection.
The East Dundee village board is far from that level of infighting, but Island Lake remains a cautionary tale. Here's hoping East Dundee elected officials can quickly find a way to work together and put the peoples' business first.