Local Election

Incumbent, former mayor square off in Island Lake

Challenger survived attempt to boot him from ballot

By SHAWN SHINNEMAN - sshinneman@shawmedia.com

ISLAND LAKE – Road improvements and a new development around Griswold Lake are at the center of the Island Lake mayoral race.

Incumbent Debbie Herrmann is seeking her second term against Charles Amrich, who, between 1985 and 2005, served as mayor of the town that’s split between McHenry and Lake counties.

Amrich withstood a decision by the Island Lake Electoral Board to kick him off the ballot after two objections from the public that claimed the filing of Amrich’s nomination papers wasn’t timely, and that the papers didn’t include required information such as the date of the petitioner’s selection. That decision was reversed in Lake County Circuit Court, and an appeals court Tuesday confirmed Amrich’s inclusion on the ballot.

Amrich attributes the attempt to get him off the ballot as political.

“It’s unfortunate that they would go about trying to not give the people the right to make a choice,” he said.

Members of the For the People slate hope residents choose Amrich.

Herrmann, who also has spent four years as Island Lake clerk and eight years as a trustee, is part of the United for Progress slate. She said she’s happy with the strides of the city’s commercial district under her leadership, bringing in places such as Walgreens and AutoZone.

Herrmann is confident the Rimas Lodge property, a proposed new commercial and residential development near Griswold Lake, will continue that momentum.

But during a public hearing for the development at a plan commission meeting last week, so many people showed up in opposition that the meeting was moved to a larger location.

Opponents say the development will cause overcrowding at existing Griswold Lake subdivisions and around Island Lake, and that developers haven’t put enough thought into the environmental impact of building on wetlands.

“They’re not going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars [on environmental research] if the village is not going to welcome it in,” Herrmann said. “One step at a time, and all those things that were mentioned at the meeting will be addressed.”

Herrmann also took issue with a point made by some opponents of the development – that the city should fill existing, empty storefronts before allowing new ones. She said those complaints stem from a strip mall in Island Lake with a landlord overcharging tenants.

Amrich opposes the Rimas development, in part because of those empty storefronts.

“The economy is such that we have a lot of vacant homes, a lot of homes that are in foreclosures,” he said. “We need to concentrate on getting those places [filled].”

Both candidates expressed a desire for road improvements. Amrich said the village is in “dire need” of road repairs and resurfacing, and said he places the issue above other infrastructure needs.

Herrmann said there are plans to begin repairs, starting with Burnett Road. She said Island Lake is one of many Illinois communities struggling to secure more funds from the state and federal government for road repairs.

“The same issues plague most of the communities in Illinois,” she said. “Island Lake is not alone.”

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