Controversy surrounded village's Mayor Congreve

Submitted by Mount Prospect Historical Society
Posted10/4/2017 12:10 PM
  • Daniel Congreve, center, was mayor of Mount Prospect from 1965 to 1969.

    Daniel Congreve, center, was mayor of Mount Prospect from 1965 to 1969. Courtesy of Mount Prospect Historical Society

  • Daniel Congreve, Mount Prospect's seventh mayor

    Daniel Congreve, Mount Prospect's seventh mayor Courtesy of Mount Prospect Historical Society

Daniel Congreve, Mount Prospect's seventh mayor, who served in that capacity from 1965 to 1969, was a "back to basics" type of leader. However, his one term in office was not without controversy, even before he entered office.

Leading up to the 1965 election, Congreve and his "United Citizens Party" ran a nine-week campaign that contended residents should have a voice in their local government, including a right to vote on annexations via referendum.

This referred to the initiatives of then Mayor C.O. Schlaver to expand the village's boundaries through "proactive annexation" and "planned growth."

In stark contrast, Congreve ran on a platform of returning to traditional values. To drive home that point, he campaigned by riding around town in a horse-drawn wagon. Even his wife, Patti Ann, was quoted in a 1965 newspaper article that she was happy her husband entered village politics because "somebody had to look at the mess we're in."

It was a very tumultuous campaign season, with Congreve portrayed as the "outsider" from Arlington Heights who believed in iron-fist rule by Schlaver's "Good Neighbor Party," a group dedicated to the extension of services in the community.

Also during the campaigning, a Daily Herald article from March 11, 1965, reported that Congreve became embroiled in a war of words with Meta Bittner, president of the library board.

Mrs. Bittner accused Congreve of being a "political boss," and he responded by alleging she made a "deal" with Schlaver's party after declining a spot on his ticket.

Congreve's campaign theme of "look what they're doing to our village" resonated with voters and allowed him to emerge victorious.

Congreve was also seen as controversial throughout his single mayoral term, often at odds with different members of the community. This included the Good Neighbor Party, who continued to depict him as "anti-growth."

Other controversies included village manager Harold Appleby, who resigned under pressure from Congreve's administration three months after the election. In addition, more than a half dozen police officers were said to have quit over interference from the administration.

Congreve also spent much of his time in office involved in numerous costly taxpayer funded legal battles with developers, including Salvatore DiMucci.

Congreve is the only mayor who left office with the boundaries of Mount Prospect unchanged, as the community did not expand at all during his administration.

However, he is credited with the construction of a bridge over Weller Creek, as well as adding ambulances to the fire department. In addition, during Congreve's first year in office, the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce held a slogan contest. "Where Town and Country Meet" became obsolete given the growth of the village and neighboring towns.

Interestingly, "Where Friendliness is a Way of Life" would eventually become Mount Prospect's motto, which is still embraced to this day.

Much like his political life, Congreve's personal life was not without a certain amount of bravado. He married Patti Ann in February 1952 during a whirlwind courtship after they met just on New Year's Eve of that year.

They had three children, Daniel Parker (named after the mayor and Patti's father), Ann Marie (named after Congreve's mother) and Coralie (named after Patti's mother).

When the couple met, Patti Ann was studying to be an X-ray technologist and was a consummate artist and craftsperson whose creations filled their home at 1001 W. Gregory in a house she designed.

Congreve was a World War II veteran, serving in the Coast Guard, where he learned to fly on the GI Bill. While in office, he still maintained flying his Twin-Beech as a hobby.

During this time, he was president of Sager Metal Strip Co. and Congreve Anodizing Service, both located in Chicago, from where he and his family moved about eight years prior to becoming mayor.

He continued in these roles until the family moved in 1974 to Davenport, Iowa, where he owned and operated Midwest Aviation until 1989.