Most Wheeling trustee hopefuls oppose executive airport runway expansion

  • Nearly all the candidates for Wheeling village board say they would oppose a runway extension at Chicago Executive Airport. The airport is owned jointly by the village and Prospect Heights.

      Nearly all the candidates for Wheeling village board say they would oppose a runway extension at Chicago Executive Airport. The airport is owned jointly by the village and Prospect Heights. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2015

 
 

Though they may differ in their willingness to listen, candidates for the Wheeling village board for the most part say that as things stand now, they oppose any runway extensions at Chicago Executive Airport.

The airport board is updating its master plan, and among the options being reviewed is an extension of the runway beyond Palatine Road.

In a joint candidates interview with a representative of the Daily Herald Editorial Board, law student Asher Horcher, daughter of Village President Pat Horcher, was the sole candidate to hold off on taking a position.

"At this point, it's just a discussion," Horcher said. "I need more information in front of me."

But the other two challengers to the incumbents expressed strong opposition, and incumbents all but ruled out an extension as well.

"I don't think there's any appetite on the board for it," Trustee Joe Vito said. "I don't see this happening."

Trustee Ray Lang said he's eager to see the plan but doesn't think there is a way the airport could come up with a layout that would appease Wheeling's concerns.

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"There's no way it makes sense," he said. "Wheeling has nothing to gain."

Trustee Dave Vogel said he does not want to presuppose the ideas that will be included in the master plan but that runway expansion doesn't seem viable.

"I do not agree that we should move the runway," he said, "if it means we're going to be moving property out of the village and that we'll be displacing homeowners."

The most vocal opponent was Deborah Wilson, a longtime critic of village government.

She expressed concerns that any expansion could jeopardize public safety and charged that the airport board has failed to involve the community, as required by the FAA.

"What they gave the public was an open house," she said. "Government should be here to serve the people and they're excluding the people."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Challenger Maryann Rodriguez Liguori leveled similar criticism.

"The FAA rules have not been followed adequately," she said. "There is no public engagement the way it was intended, the way it was supposed to have been done."

The six candidates are running for three trustee seats on the village board. The election is April 2.

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