Veteran Mundelein police chief chosen village administrator
Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther has been selected as the village's new top administrator.
Guenther, who started with the department in 1995 and advanced to chief eight years ago, was selected from a national field of 59 applicants to replace Village Administrator John Lobaito, who is retiring.
On Friday, the village announced that Mayor Steve Lentz would be seeking official village board approval of Guenther's appointment Monday. He would start Aug. 3 at a salary of $202,000. Guenther made $171,792 as police chief in 2017, according to the Better Government Association's public salary database.
"In just eight years, Eric Guenther has distinguished himself at the local, state and national levels through his leadership and innovative thinking," Lentz said.
"Eric knows Mundelein's issues and people. He is intelligent, an excellent communicator and a gifted leader who works well with people."
Last December, Lobaito, who has served as village administrator since 2005, said he would be retiring in early June. The village hoped to have a replacement by then, but the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis put that action on hold.
Lobaito said he would stay until the post was filled. Four months ago, the village hired GovHR USA of Northbrook to find a replacement.
Fourteen of the 59 applicants were presented to the village board. The list was narrowed to seven candidates for video interviews and trimmed to four finalists for in-person interviews, which the village board conducted before making the final selection.
Guenther is well known in Lake County for his work with opioid prevention and other community issues.
He said the new post has similarities to his role as chief in terms of managing projects and personnel and making sound financial decisions.
In 2018, he was named Chief of the Year by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. His roles in creating the Lake County Opioid Initiative and "A Way Out" drug abuse diversion program were among the accomplishments noted by the association.
He also spearheaded the Latino Police Academy, led the 911 consolidation with three communities and directed the process to equip all Lake County law enforcement officers with the lifesaving anti-opiate Naloxone, according to the village.
"In his new role as village administrator, Eric's proven leadership, effective management skills, strategic thinking and the respect he garners in the community and with staff, will certainly help Mundelein continue to grow and thrive," village Trustee Ray Semple said in the announcement.
Semple added that Guenther's commitment and passion to the village's strategic vision will be "immediately apparent."
Guenther said the new post has similarities to his role as chief in terms of managing projects and personnel and making sound financial decisions, and he added that his crisis management skills will be helpful as the village and staff navigate whatever COVID-19 brings.
"Immediately, I will concentrate on getting familiar with current projects and developments within the various departments as well as meeting with the board to understand their priorities," he said.
An interim police chief will be appointed by the village board.