Challengers for Itasca trustee divided over data center proposal on golf course
Separate proposals for the Haymarket drug treatment center and for development of part of the Itasca Golf Course have drawn seven candidates to compete for three seats on the Itasca Village Board.
Incumbent trustees Jeff Aiani and Frank Madaras are running for reelection. Newcomers on the ballot are Joshua Beauchamp, Patrick J. Powers, Dustin Sneath, Eric Swets and Jennifer Troutman.
Beauchamp and Troutman believe the data center proposal -- a 34-acre facility on the Itasca Golf Course that has met fierce resistance -- should at least be heard and considered, while Powers and Sneath don't believe it should be built on the golf course property.
Sneath is a member of the club and Powers lives adjacent to the golf course.
Swets is the brother of Itasca Country Club owner Larry Swets, the head of the investment group that owns the Itasca Country Club and proposed building the data center on the golf course.
Eric Swets, CEO of Swets Construction Inc. and an Itasca plan commissioner, has recused himself in both the data center and Haymarket controversies, citing his brother's involvement in the projects. Larry Swets a year ago sought to buy the former Holiday Inn that the nonprofit Haymarket Center is seeking to turn into a drug rehabilitation facility.
"Times are changing around us, and as great as the board has been, I don't think they're equipped to handle the world that is changing around them," Eric Swets said.
Of the data center proposal, Beauchamp said, "I think it's a great way to increase tax revenue and make Itasca a more consumer friendly place on the map."
Beauchamp, 20, is a junior at Elmhurst University studying political science. He previously volunteered for former U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam in 2018 when he was 18.
"I feel it's important for younger candidates to run for office and to make our voices heard in our communities," Beauchamp said.
Troutman, 46, a marketing communications professional, is running for office with hopes of improving the relationships between residents, businesses and the local government.
Troutman has been living in Itasca for 17 years and said new blood is needed for the village board.
"There are a lot of hot topics that need a fresh set of eyes," Troutman said. "Our leaders have done a great job and have made sure they don't put women in a box, but we need to take things forward."
Troutman thinks the data center could be good for the village but does not support Haymarket Center, though she said she understands the need for facilities like it.
Sneath, a 29-year-old IT professional, is running to make infrastructure a priority of the village, both in terms of public safety and for economic growth in the village. He has been living in the village since 2015.
"I've been disappointed with how many times we have seen streets flood after normal storms," Sneath said. "We could get a lot more for our money with a more effective street repair program."
Sneath said his involvement in the race started with his opposition to Haymarket. He believes the potential drug treatment facility is too large for a small town to handle.
Powers is running as part of the Itasca First Party, focusing on experience. Also on the slate are Madaras, Mayor Jeff Pruyn, and Village Clerk Jody A. Conidi. Pruyn is challenged by retired investor Thomas Pawlicki and Conidi is unopposed.
Powers, an Itasca resident since 1982, has served on Itasca School District 10 board for 10 years and believes that his experience as a financial adviser would serve the village board.
"I have seen my family grow up here and I have a vested interest in seeing Itasca grow and develop," Powers said. "I'm aware of a lot of issues facing the village and I want to do my part."