Longtime Hoffman Estates mayor faces reelection challenges
Longtime Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod will face a pair of challengers as he seeks his sixth term as the village's top elected official in the spring election.
Recently retired village police lieutenant Mark Mueller and resident Nicholas Waryas, who unsuccessfully ran for village trustee in 2017, filed nominating petitions Monday to place their names on the April 6 ballot.
Mueller, who retired from the police department last month, filed along with a slate of three trustee candidates hoping to oust the three incumbents seeking reelection. McLeod also filed nominating papers Monday.
Mueller criticized McLeod for rising property taxes, what he called the financial burden of the Now Arena on residents, and cuts to the police and fire departments' budgets.
His "Hoffman Estates Forward" slate consists of trustee candidates James Murre, Renee Robinson and Gaurav Patel. They will challenge incumbent trustees Karen Mills, Michael Gaeta and Karen Arnet.
"It's time for a new direction in Hoffman Estates," Mueller said in a written statement. "The Hoffman Estates Forward team will put a stop to the wasteful spending and constant property tax hikes. We will help our small businesses create good-paying jobs right here in our community. And we will keep our families and neighborhoods safe."
Mueller, who grew up in the village and spent more than 30 years of his professional career there, said he met his fellow slate members through various community activities and found they had a similar motives for running.
In response to Mueller's criticism, McLeod noted that most of the property taxes village residents pay go to school districts, with the village's share being only 12%. Rising pension costs for police and firefighters are the only reason the village hasn't kept its property tax levy flat, he said.
The village's crime rate has been dropping, McLeod said, adding that staffing recommendations for the police and fire departments come from their respective chiefs.
The village has had no problems making its debt service payments on the Now Arena, formerly the Sears Centre, he said. The arena also has sparked economic development, including the Main Event entertainment center and the new Holiday Inn Express, McLeod said.
Waryas, who announced his campaign back in the summer of 2019, said his platform calls for passing term limits, protecting the village's remaining farmland from developers, lowering property taxes, eliminating the stormwater tax and ending wasteful spending.
A resident of Hoffman Estates for all 37 years of his life, Waryas said that as someone who collects disability payments himself, he has empathy for people with visual impairments and wants the village to install sidewalk bumps at both ends of all blocks to inform them they're approaching streets.
Waryas points to the proposed development of a data center on 53 acres north of Bell Works Chicagoland as an example of where he would work to protect natural space and wetlands.
McLeod's lengthy public service began when he was appointed a village trustee in 1980 and then elected to that position several times through the '80s and '90s. After the death of then-Mayor Michael O'Malley in September 2000, McLeod was appointed acting mayor by his fellow trustees. He has been elected mayor five times since 2001.
Hoffman Estates Village Clerk Bev Romanoff also filed for reelection Monday but as yet is facing no challengers.
No races yet in Schaumburg:
Trustees Jack Sullivan and Frank Kozak were joined by plan commission Chairman Jamie Clar in filing nominating petitions Monday morning. Clar is seeking the seat of longtime Trustee Marge Connelly, who is not running for reelection.
The mayor's and village clerk's offices are not on the ballot next year in Schaumburg.
Because Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates have a primary system that would narrow down a large field of candidates, the filing period for their potential Feb. 23 primary runs through next Monday, Nov. 23.
A primary would be triggered only if the number of candidates who file exceeds four times the number of seats for a position. It would take five candidates to trigger a primary for mayor or clerk, and 13 to trigger a primary for trustee.
The filing period in suburbs without a primary system is Dec. 14-21.