Rolling Meadows mayor-elect says it's time for 'evolution'

Rolling Meadows Mayor-elect Joe Gallo doesn't plan to waste any time in bringing change to the city after he is sworn in next month.

That includes a promise to hold the fire stations builder "accountable" to its contract, and having greater control over city council meetings.

Gallo outlined his goals, while also taking aim at his political rivals, in a wide-ranging hour-plus interview the day after his victory in a contentious four-way race.

"We are at a point in our community - and the residents have spoken - it is time for evolution," said Gallo, during a sit-down interview Wednesday morning at the Daily Herald.

The 38-year-old first-term alderman emerged victorious Tuesday night over Alderman John D'Astice, Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chairman Dave Whitney, and incumbent Mayor Len Prejna, who finished last in the crowded field.

Gallo said he was able to energize and engage the electorate - in which he took 35 percent of the vote - while also overcoming "a series of unnecessary, irrelevant negative behaviors" by fellow council members in the immediate run-up to Election Day.

An internal city investigative report penned by City Manager Barry Krumstok and released just days before the election concluded Gallo verbally harassed Alderman Laura Majikes in February. The confrontation came after council members criticized Gallo for filing paperwork for a grant without their approval. Aldermen later censured Gallo for the incident involving Majikes.

As to his three foes on the campaign trail, Gallo said, "they literally ganged up on me."

"They thought they weren't doing it together, but it was all individually against one. It showed that none of them against one another were significant in any way," he said. "They were all battling me as the only point of significance. It was good for me to realize maybe out of all of this, they are all insignificant and I'm the only person of significance."

When reached Wednesday, Whitney and D'Astice said they worked on their own campaigns, which they believe were run clean.

"It's never been about one person but about the city. It's about the team," D'Astice said. "If in his first interview he is alleging improprieties against his opponents, to me that's not really the way you start to create consensus and bring a team together."

Prejna didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

Gallo said he believes the new council - which will have three new members - will be one of "collaboration, conscious thought for the community and no longer this collective thought for the self."

He promised he would try to defuse tensions by having sidebar conversations with aldermen before council meetings.

On the issues, Gallo repeated his call to hire a professional project manager to oversee construction manager R.C. Wegman, which is building new fire houses on Algonquin Road and Hicks Road. He said he's not pleased with the contract city officials negotiated with the firm, and suggested he may seek outside counsel to at least ask questions.

"I need to have an attorney that is looking at the best interests of the residents," Gallo said. "We don't need attorneys that look out for the best interests of five people or the complacency within contracts."

Though Gallo has butted heads with Krumstok - who received a three-year contract extension from the council in December - the mayor-elect said he would have a professional, working relationship with the city manager.

Gallo said he wants the council to have greater say in setting its meeting agenda rather than Krumstok.

And to repair a "disconnect" at the council dais between aldermen and residents, Gallo said he promises to thank residents who come to council meetings to speak during public comment.

His overall approach, he says, is "a greater consciousness toward the resident."

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