Wheeling, Des Plaines political showdowns among hottest in the suburbs

Editor's note: This story has been edited to include information about a website that slams Smith and some of the projects from his past.

Races for mayor and village president have been some of the most hotly contested showdowns in the Northwest suburbs this election cycle.

But Tuesday is Election Day and the finish line is in sight.

Of course, some winners may not be obvious for a while longer because of votes cast early and by mail.

Here's a recap of a handful of the headline-grabbing contests.


The contest for village president in Wheeling pits local developer Mark Smith against first-term incumbent and local florist Pat Horcher. It has been a messy campaign, with Smith and his supporters taking shots at Horcher and the current administration on social media and at village board meetings.

Horcher has responded by correcting misleading financial information shared by Smith and Smith's allies, touting new businesses and talking about other accomplishments. And a Horcher supporter - or, at least, a Smith critic - created a website that slams Smith and some of the projects from his past. Horcher promoted the site on Facebook.

Horcher allies have publicly questioned how Smith's local business interests would benefit if he's elected. They've also questioned his campaign backers, which include several people who have been at odds with Horcher through the years and have donated to Smith's political committees.

Mount Prospect

Three of Mount Prospect's six trustees are seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Arlene Juracek.

Among the hopefuls is the board's most senior member, Paul Hoefert, who has served since 1991. Hoefert, a banker, said he is running to promote growth through economic development, which he says is the key to providing high-quality services.

He's campaigned as the voice of the people, and previously promoted a villagewide referendum on the sale of recreational marijuana.

Colleen Saccotelli has been a trustee since 2015. Saccotelli, who holds a master's degree in international affairs, said she intends to use her training to help solve problems in the village.

She has positioned herself as representing young families in the village and a voice for the community's future.

William Grossi has served on the board since 2017. An attorney with a background in finance and accounting, Grossi said he plans to use that experience in his approach to village finances.

He has not shied away from controversy, including his vocal support for the village's divisive police patch.

Des Plaines

The race for mayor in Des Plaines has three experienced candidates competing for the big chair: Andrew Goczkowski, the city's 8th Ward alderman; Michael Charewicz, a former 8th Ward alderman; and Malcolm Chester, the city's 6th Ward alderman.

Incumbent Matthew Bogusz isn't seeking reelection.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big issue leading up to Election Day. While Goczkowski voted to uphold Gov. J.B. Pritzker's ban on indoor restaurant service last fall, Chester voted against the restrictions. Charewicz said he opposed the ban, too.

The candidates stand apart in other ways - particularly their ideas for revitalizing Des Plaines' downtown area. Charewicz believes the renovated Des Plaines Theatre will be the cornerstone of any future downtown redevelopment; Chester wants to focus on the Metropolitan Square shopping, dining and residential complex; and Goczkowski suggested boosting municipal grant programs to stoke business growth in the area.

Hoffman Estates

In his 21st year as mayor of Hoffman Estates, Bill McLeod is being challenged for the post by recently retired Hoffman Estates police Lt. Mark Mueller and 2017 trustee candidate Nicholas Waryas.

McLeod is touting his experience as crucial to the village during an economically disruptive pandemic. He also maintains he has the know-how to attract and retain businesses in the community.

But economic development also is a top issue for Mueller, who's said a mayor should more proactively reach out to the business community. He also wants greater control over rising property taxes.

Waryas has been less active on the campaign trail, not joining candidate forums with his rivals. He has said he is running against wasteful spending and unneeded taxes and wants to eliminate the real estate transfer tax. Additionally, Waryas lists preserving Hoffman Estates' remaining farmland among his priorities.

Barrington Hills

Two candidates are vying to become Barrington Hills' next village president.

Brian Cecola, a business owner and six-year village trustee, is taking on Dennis Kelly, the Barrington Hills Park District board president and a local insurance broker.

Incumbent Martin McLaughlin won the state House 52nd District race in November and isn't seeking reelection.

Cecola touted his hands-on experience in village government. Kelly touted his experience serving on the park board for eight years, saying he would bring a new set of eyes to village hall.

Cecola said the village has lowered its tax levy and cut spending during his tenure on the board and as chairman of the public safety and roads and bridges committees, while at the same time ramping up its road program.

Kelly, the former chairman of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce board, said he would emphasize transparency and participation by residents if elected.

• Daily Herald staff writers Eric Peterson, Christopher Placek and Steve Zalusky contributed to this report.

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From left, William Grossi, Paul Hoefert and Colleen Saccotelli are candidates for Mount Prospect mayor.
From left Michael Charewicz, Malcom Chester and Andrew Goczkowski are Des Plaines mayoral candidates.
From left, Bill McLeod, Mark Mueller and Nicholas Waryas are candidates for Hoffman Estates mayor.
Brian Cecola, left, and Dennis Kelly are vying to be the next village president of Barrington Hills.
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