Black joins Mundelein village board despite accusation of cronyism
Mundelein's newest village board member said he's "laser focused" on the ongoing redevelopment of the village's downtown.
"We're on the very cusp of exciting changes that will define what Mundelein will look like 5, 10, and 20 years from now," said Trustee Scott Black, who was appointed Monday night to fill the seat of ex-trustee Dakotah Norton.
Norton quit the board in June as other trustees were considering removing him for missing five consecutive board meetings.
Black was a longtime member of the village's planning and zoning commission, which helps shape residential and commercial development. He had to resign that post to join the village board.
He unsuccessfully ran for the village board in April's election, finishing fifth out of six candidates seeking three seats. He campaigned with Mayor Steve Lentz, who nominated him for Norton's seat.
The village's downtown redevelopment effort was a key part of Black's campaign platform earlier this year. His support of village hall's plans -- which include various aesthetic upgrades and a grant program for entrepreneurs seeking to improve their properties -- hasn't waned.
"My hope is that we're able to be witness to a vibrant downtown redevelopment ... with new housing, shops, and restaurants," Black said.
He said he's grateful for the opportunity to serve Mundelein residents in a new way.
"It's a great honor, and I look forward to working hard to help fully realize the true potential of Mundelein," Black said.
Lentz said he received nearly 20 applications from people interested in the post, and he personally interviewed about half the applicants before nominating Black.
Black's 21 years on the planning commission, including the last 10 as its leader, put him atop the list, Lentz said.
"That is just a wealth of experience serving our residents and helping our public in mind," he said.
Black recited the oath of office and took a seat on the dais after the board's 4-1 vote approving the nomination.
Trustee Robin Meier opposed the move, complaining at length about a lack of transparency in the application and nomination processes.
Meier also expressed concern about a public perception of cronyism because of Black's political connection to Lentz.
"The process for this appointment has been flawed from the beginning, and I won't be supporting it," Meier said.
In response, Trustee Dawn Abernathy defended the process and scolded Meier.
"There was a transparent process. You did not like the way he conducted it," Abernathy said.
Lentz said he met with Meier over lunch and thought he had accommodated her concerns about the process.