Incumbents vs. challengers in South Elgin village board election
Two de facto slates have emerged in the race for village board in South Elgin: on one side the three trustees seeking re-election, and on the other the two challengers, a former village board member and a former village employee.
Incumbents Scott Richmond, Lisa Guess and Mike Kolodziej and challengers Shane Hamilton and Bill DiFulvio are running for three seats on Tuesday's ballot.
Richmond, 50, an attorney; Guess, 59, who does part-time office work; and Kolodziej, 58, a retired schoolteacher, touted their work in overseeing the village's growth with balanced budgets and lowered property tax rates for the last five years.
"We are a diverse group and come from different walks of life. We can discuss our ideas and our thoughts ... and it helps you see things from a different perspective," Guess said.
Richmond and Kolodziej agreed, saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
But for Hamilton and DiFulvio, as they put it, it's "Out with the old, in with the new."
Hamilton, 41, was a parks superintendent in South Elgin until May 2018 and now is director of parks and facilities for the Carol Stream Park District.
DiFulvio, 58, works as a site manager for an auction company and was on the board from 2001 to 2013.
DiFulvio and Hamilton, who are friends, fought to stay on the ballot after a resident filed objections to their nominating papers. "When this process started I had zero intent in running with anybody," Hamilton said. "But when they wanted to get us off the ballot, it was just sheer common sense that Bill and I basically came together to share expenses."
Hamilton said he has a unique perspective as a former employee and wants to encourage better communication within the village "from upper management down."
He wants the village board to take "a really, really serious" look at each development proposal that comes in, particularly along the Fox River. "I feel like everything that comes in, the village board rubber stamps," he said.
DiFulvio said the board has approved too much affordable housing downtown. He pointed to Marison Mill Suites, a 70-unit building with affordable housing for people 55 and older.
"Everybody wants their cute coffee shops and their cute stores ... but by definition, you have to have the income for that," he said. Instead, he favors setting a 10-percent affordable housing requirement for all buildings.
Guess was the lone "no" vote on Marison Mill, which she argued would have been better positioned closer to shopping and city bus routes. "It's done. You can't dwell on it," she said.
DiFulvio also said trustees should be more directly involved in village activities and committees, which was his philosophy as a trustee.
The three incumbents said they want to make sure the village makes the best use of funds remaining in a downtown tax-incrementing financing district set to expire in a few years. They all pointed to plans for improvements to parkland along the Fox River near village hall.
The incumbents also said they want to focus on maintaining and improving roadways. The board voted to place a referendum question on the election ballot asking voters for a 0.5 percent local sales tax increase to fund that.
The current board doesn't believe in relying on extensive borrowing to repair roads, Richmond said. "We want to keep our fiscal situation strong," he said.
Kolodziej said it's also important that the village "continue hiring a great staff" as people retire.