Flood prevention a top concern for some Mundelein board candidates
Flood prevention and business development are top priorities for most of the candidates running for seats on Mundelein's village board.
Five people are running for three seats with 4-year terms on the board: incumbents Scott Black, Bill Rekus and Kerston Russell; and newcomers Kara Lambert and Erich Schwenk.
The candidates talked about the top issues facing Mundelein and other matters in questionnaires for the Daily Herald.
Mundelein's long history of stormwater sewer and sanitary sewer backups was a primary concern for several of the candidates.
The flooding reached disaster-level proportions in July 2017, when a rainstorm backed up stormwater sewers and caused a catastrophic flood in town, particularly in the Western Slope neighborhood near Route 45 and Division Street. Many houses were damaged.
Village officials subsequently developed a $10 million flood-control project that primarily will focus on the Western Slope neighborhood. It will be funded with a stormwater utility fee on water bills and a 3-percent tax on packaged liquor sales.
Repairs or improvements to the village's sanitary sewer system are not part of the project. Work on that separate system hasn't yet been approved.
Black, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in 2017, said stopping the recurring flooding in the Western Slope neighborhood is the most important issue facing the board.
Black supports the $10 million improvement project, which should begin this spring.
Schwenk doesn't want Western Slope to be the only neighborhood that receives sewer improvements.
"We must invest in ourselves first to attract developers to further invest in our village's future," said Schwenk, a flight attendant who's making his first bid for political office.
Rekus cited broader infrastructure improvements as a priority, lumping street repairs in with the planned sewer work as being necessary.
A trustee since 2015, he also said village officials must work to attract new residential, commercial and retail development to increase property tax revenue.
Russell, a business owner who's been a trustee since 2015, also said business development should be a priority.
Lambert, a sales and service manager with the Goldfish Swim School, said keeping Mundelein "a thriving community" for young families is the biggest local issue.
When asked to elaborate, Lambert said the village should market events to residents better using social media and email. Encouraging restaurateurs to operate in Mundelein could help, too, she said.
Black, Rekus and Russell are part of the Moving Mundelein Forward slate. Lambert and Schwenk are running independently.