LAKE IN THE HILLS – Dealing with the economic crisis locally is a top priority for Lake in the Hills trustee candidates running in the April 7 election.
Six candidates are running for three trustee positions on the Lake in the Hills Village Board. They are Denise Barreto, Shelly Forté, Jeffrey Siegel, Joseph Wright, and incumbents Robert Huckins and Stephen Harlfinger.
Harlfinger said his top priority, if re-elected, would be to offer financial education opportunities to Lake in the Hills residents and inform them about state and federal assistance programs. Harlfinger, who has served on the village board since 2001, is vice president of Sterling Fire Restoration Ltd. in Prospect Heights, a company that cleans and repairs homes damaged by fire.
Siegel, who works for AT&T, said he was running “to help working families and hold the line on spending.” He said he’d try to obtain more aid for seniors without increasing taxes and would try to entice industry to Lake in the Hills rather than strip malls.
“Right now, all we’re doing is building strip malls and not putting anything in them,” Siegel said. He liked the idea of developing a downtown area northwest of the intersection at Randall and Algonquin roads, as long as it did not cost taxpayers money.
“It would be a place where the village could come together. It seems like we have two sides of the village – the east side and the west side,” he said.
Forté, a human resources manager, also supported developing a downtown area in the future.
“Our residents yearn for a sense of centralization that a downtown core offers, and would love to visit and support an easily accessible downtown area where they can shop from local merchants, meet friends for coffee, attend holiday festivities, or attend a play date for little ones, all in the same area,” she said.
Harlfinger said he did not support the creation of a downtown Lake in the Hills.
“This plan would not survive,” Harlfinger said. “We do not have a major amenity located in the village [such as] a river, land, or major road by our small lakes, or a train station.”
Huckins, who has served as a trustee since 2007, said he encouraged development near Randall and Algonquin roads, but did not believe the village was laid out in a way to support a downtown, he said. Huckins is an account executive for an event management company and a retired member of the U.S. Army.
Wright, an electrician with the Chicago Transit Authority, also opposed the idea of creating a downtown area in the current economic climate.
“I don’t think with some of these strip malls and storefronts that are already vacant, that we need more vacant property built up,” Wright said.
For Wright, creating better accessibility to trustees was his top priority.
“I think that the village board is a one-man show, and I believe that people are kind of fed up with the way the village board does business,” Wright said. “Nobody shows up at our village meetings ... A lot of people are telling me that they just don’t feel listened to.”
Wright said he would be the best person for the job because he had no personal ties to any board members.
“I’m not looking to do favors for anybody. I don’t care if I step on anybody’s toes to say no,” he said.
Wright and Siegel both believed improving or widening Rakow Road near McHenry Avenue and Ackman Road should be a higher priority than widening Randall Road to six lanes, they said.
Barreto, who works in marketing, said Randall Road must be widened.
“There are hundreds of thousands of cars that travel Randall daily, and we have one of the longest local commutes to our jobs in the Chicago area,” she said. “However, I believe we must pursue the solution that keeps the integrity of the homes along the corridor in place.”
Forté supported widening Randall Road, but said pedestrian walkways should be part of the project.