Familiar names on Huntley ballot

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HUNTLEY – The only contested race in Huntley for the upcoming April election features many familiar faces but only one incumbent, as four candidates vie for three trustee positions.

Trustee John Piwko will try to convince voters that he has the most village board experience as he aims for a third consecutive term, while former Trustee Jay Kadakia, fresh off a November loss for McHenry County Board, attempts a comeback.

J.R. Westberg, an Air Force veteran, also returns to the ballot, after unsuccessfully running for trustee in the last local election in 2011.

Newcomer Ronda Goldman hopes her civic experience with the Huntley Historical Society and other local groups will be enough to win over voters when they head to the polls April 9.

“Anytime you have four people looking for three spots, it is going to be a challenge,” Pikwo said. “I like what I do, and I want to continue. Being the only incumbent, I do have that experience.”

Incumbent Pam Fender decided not to run for re-election, after announcing her campaign to be the next Grafton Township supervisor. Trustee Ron Hahn also declined to pick up a petition, after being appointed to the position in 2011.

All of the four trustee candidates are aware of the math that is going to leave one man, or woman, out of a Village Board spot, once all ballots are counted.

Most candidates said they plan to start knocking on doors and meeting with voters and community groups in the months leading up to the April election.

Kadakia is familiar with the board, after serving as trustee from 2007 to 2011, before losing to incumbents Harry Leopold, Niko Kanakaris and then-newcomer Nick Hanson.

Kadakia also knows about Hahn’s 2011 appointment, after Village President Chuck Sass initially recommended Kadakia to fill the term of Paul Mercer, who resigned after moving to Arizona.

Led by resistance from Fender, the board split on Kadakia’s appointment, forcing Sass to recommend Hahn, a longtime Plan Commission member. But Kadakia said that the failed appointment had to do with local politics, not his public service pedigree.

Kadakia still serves on the McHenry County Ground Water Task Force and on a transportation panel for the McHenry County Council of Governments. He said that experience, coupled with his trustee term, makes him highly qualified to tackle the issues a growing community, such as Huntley, faces.

If elected, his priorities would be expanding the village’s water system and improving Huntley’s infrastructure.

“Huntley needs me,” Kadakia said. “With the many candidates on the board, I can do a better or equal job than them. I have the expertise and knowledge to do that.”

Goldman, a retired teacher and Chicago Public Schools administrator, is vice president and a founding member of the local historical society.

She also is vice president of the Huntley Civilian Police Academy and served on the now-defunct District 158 financial advisory committee.

The Sun City resident said she would focus her attention as trustee on economic development, helping a thriving community attract commercial developers and retailers. She also would strive to preserve the village’s rural history.

“I have a feeling that Huntley is soaring to greatness, and I want to help map that journey,” Goldman said.

After losing two years ago, Westberg said the community has had more opportunities to understand him and his values. The Air Force veteran now serves on the village’s Plan Commission and holds a leadership position with the Huntley American Legion.

The former Huntley Jaycees President said he would protect taxpayers, as more developers look to locate to Huntley. He also would maintain the village’s history of fiscal conservatism.

Like Goldman, Westberg has never held elected office.

“My dedication to Huntley has only increased in the past two years,” Westberg said. “I have learned more about how the village works, as well as I have a better understanding of what our residents care about.”

Piwko, who is active with St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Huntley Youth Baseball league, said he would like to see through the competition of the $69 million Interstate 90 interchange and the Kreutzer Road extension.

Piwko, who has been serving as trustee since 2007, said he has many pet projects he would like finalized. That primarily includes a more connected sidewalk and bike path system throughout the village.

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