Meet the new mayors: These six election night victors ready to take the reins

Incumbent mayors across the suburbs mostly held their ground on Tuesday. Still, a half dozen new faces were elected to lead in several cities and villages, including Naperville, Rolling Meadows and Buffalo Grove.

Here's a look at those first-time mayors and village presidents:


Speaking to a crowd of supporters Tuesday night, Scott Wehrli referred to himself as "an adopted kid from Chicago."

Now he's the next mayor of Naperville.

The Wehrli name has been synonymous with Naperville since the family first came to the area in the 1840s. Wehrli Road weaves through part of town. Scott's grandparents are prominent on a downtown mural.

The only adopted child among 63 first cousins, Wehrli said he ran for mayor to continue a legacy of service that dates back generations.

"I've always felt an obligation to give back simply because this community has done so much for me," he said. "It changed the trajectory of my life. It's always made me be an optimist. I could have ended up anywhere, and somehow I ended up in this place I love."

When he's sworn in later this month, the work begins for Wehrli, who topped Councilman Benny White in the race to succeed Steve Chirico.

Wehrli, who runs a family-owned business, Dukane Precast, has been on the city's liquor commission for decades and works part time for the park district police.

Wehrli, 53, said his top priority is fulfilling a "Day One promise" to meet with local public safety and mental health officials. His goal is to make mental health issues "a community conversation we can all work to improve on."

He also aims to focus immediately on economic development in the city, especially in southern Naperville. Collaborating with city council members is another priority.

"You're not always going to agree on things," he said. "But you can at least try to find some common ground on issues that are going to be important for our community."

- Kevin Schmit

  Lara Sanoica is the first female mayor of Rolling Meadows and, at age 31, the city's youngest. She poses in front of portraits of past mayors in city hall. John Starks/

Rolling Meadows

Four years ago, Lara Sanoica started attending government meetings at Rolling Meadows City Hall to get answers about flooding in her west-side neighborhood.

Now, the first-term alderman is getting ready to lead those meetings as the city's first female mayor and, at age 31, its youngest.

Sanoica, who attended St. Colette and Fremd High School, recently put down roots as a homeowner with her husband.

She was endorsed by Mayor Joe Gallo in December when he decided not to seek reelection, and she says she's already been working with him and City Manager Rob Sabo to ensure a smooth transition ahead of her swearing-in on May 9.

On May 17, she'll deliver her first state-of-the-city address at a chamber of commerce luncheon.

"The vision I have for the city hasn't changed since being an alderman," she said Wednesday, the day after her unopposed election to the 4-year mayoral term. "I want Rolling Meadows to be a prosperous, vibrant suburb with excellent municipal and public safety services that's going to prepare us for the future."

That vision includes expanding social services, replacing old water mains from the 1950s and 1960s, and executing a comprehensive business development strategy. The latter includes a proposed transformation of the former Sam's Club on Golf Road into an Asian-focused commercial, restaurant and entertainment center.

And it means making sure the Bears' redevelopment of Arlington Park just across the border is "a net positive" for Rolling Meadows, she said. Sanoica already is fostering regional relationships with her positions on two Northwest Municipal Conference committees.

"It's the development of a lifetime if the Bears ultimately decide to move, and Rolling Meadows is preparing now to make sure that we are capturing all of the economic development that could take place," she said.

- Christopher Placek

  Lara Sanoica is the first female mayor of Rolling Meadows and at age 31, its youngest. She poses outside the mayor's office Wednesday. John Starks/

Buffalo Grove

Eric Smith is known as the consensus builder and collaborator on the Buffalo Grove village board.

So after Village President Beverly Sussman decided last summer not to seek a third term, she endorsed him as her successor, and no one else ran against him in Tuesday's election.

It was also Smith who then-Village President Elliott Hartstein turned to in 2010 to serve a five-month stint on the board in place of recalled Trustee Lisa Stone.

Smith, who has served on a number of village panels and been involved with the local chamber and Rotary since moving to town in 1988, says his first order of business as president is to introduce himself to any employee he doesn't already know at village hall.

"I get along with everybody. I'm a voice of reason. I listen to every perspective," said Smith, a chiropractor whose most recent tenure as village trustee started in 2017. "I may not agree with you on an issue, but I always listen and I understand your perspective. And that's what politics is and that's what getting things done is. You have to compromise. You have to listen to other people."

Next on Smith's priority list is infrastructure and community development, including completion of The Clove, a mixed-use project that would be the largest in Buffalo Grove history.

He's also seeking a diverse cross-section of the community to serve on focus groups for the strategic and comprehensive plans and branding initiative - things that will all help put together a road map to attract future developers and businesses, he said.

- Christopher Placek

PROSPECT HTS.: Patrick Ludvigsen

Prospect Heights

Patrick Ludvigsen ran uncontested to become Prospect Heights' next mayor, but he probably couldn't be much more prepared for the job.

Not only is he the longest-serving alderman on the city council, but he previously served as acting mayor in 2007 and 2008.

In a city that's often been characterized by the leadership styles of its mayors, Ludvigsen said he has one of his own.

"I'm very collaborative and like to bring people together," he said. "I work well with the council. It makes for a very good government."

Ludvigsen believes Prospect Heights is in strong financial shape for its day-to-day operations but more challenged in its ability to take on major projects. And that's related to one of his top priorities.

"Always looking for new revenue sources that come from outside our city," he said of an ongoing goal.

He also would like to better use technology to lighten the load on the staff in keeping tabs on city operations.

Ludvigsen thanked 5th Ward Alderman Matt Dolick on Wednesday for his service as acting mayor since the January 2022 death of three-term incumbent Nick Helmer.

Ludvigsen served as acting mayor after the resignation of Rodney Pace.

He represented the 4th Ward on the council for 17 years when he resigned in November 2020 to move to the 2nd Ward.

After only 18 months away from the council, he was appointed 2nd Ward alderman last May to replace Kathleen Quinn, who resigned when she took a job as executive director of the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

- Eric Peterson

Campton Hills Village President-elect Barbara Wojnicki says she will focus on building relationships and open communication between the residents and the village administration. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network

Campton Hills

Campton Hills Village President-elect Barbara Wojnicki said the first thing she will do in office is focus on building relationships and open communication between residents and the village administration.

"We need a little bit more of that," she said.

She also wants to form committees to address various topics. One could be an environmental/farmland committee to work on ideas to preserve the semirural nature of the village. Another might be a social committee tasked with ways to help residents who are struggling financially.

Trustees would lead the committees, she said, which would keep them "very engaged" with residents.

And third, she wants to look for grant money to help pay for village projects, such as rebuilding or resurfacing roads.

Wojnicki will lead a board that has three new trustees, with whom she was allied during the campaign. They defeated three longtime trustees.

"I won and our team won because we worked so diligently as a team," Wojnicki said.

Wojnicki was a Kane County Board member for 24 years before losing in the Republican primary in 2022.

- Susan Sarkauskas

OAK BROOK: Laurence Herman

Oak Brook

Larry Herman, Oak Brook's first new village president in 12 years, won't have much of a learning curve.

The lifelong Oak Brook resident has been a village trustee for the past two years. He's the president of an Oak Brook-based insurance agency. Three generations of his family live in Oak Brook.

With those deep roots, Herman showed a historical perspective during the race to succeed Gopal Lalmalani.

When asked about the future of the former McDonald's corporate campus, Herman, 61, remembered a development debate before the fast-food giant established its headquarters in the affluent suburb. Another proposal had surfaced to create a residential subdivision on the woodsy land.

"I can tell you that the overwhelming support in the community back then - this is 40-plus years ago - was the McDonald's proposal, not a subdivision, because people liked the natural beauty, and they did not want that to be destroyed," Herman said. "I don't think that the sentiment is any different today."

While Herman has said it would be an ideal location for empty-nester housing, any such proposal would have to preserve the natural beauty of a campus that has "stood the test of time."

- Katlyn Smith

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