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'Frustrated' Cary trustee won't run for re-election on Village Board

Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com
Cary Village Board Trustee Karen Lukasik (left) talks with Christopher Clark during a Cary Village Board meeting Tuesday, July 15, 2014. Lukasik, says she is not running for re-election.
Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com Cary Village Board Trustee Karen Lukasik (left) talks with Christopher Clark during a Cary Village Board meeting Tuesday, July 15, 2014. Lukasik, says she is not running for re-election.

CARY – A vocal, and at times fiery and passionate, trustee will not run for re-election.

Trustee Karen Lukasik said she does not plan to seek a second term on Cary’s Village Board in the upcoming April election.

“It’s time for other people to step in and take my seat,” Lukasik said.

“A lot of people have asked me to run,” Lukasik added. “I do think I could do it, but it’s taken time away from my family.”

She was elected in 2011 in a campaign that included a call for more transparency in the village’s administration.

Lukasik at times has been passionate and not afraid to voice her frustration and objections during Village Board meetings. Most recently, she was one of the vocal opponents to the planned Pedcor Investments 60-unit apartment complex at First and Pearl streets.

She said the board is inconsistent, citing how the village is choosing to have a workshop on backyard residential chickens with a panel of experts, but chose not to have a similar workshop when it came to the Pedcor decision.

She said she believed the system broke down, and she disagrees with the Pedcor development being built at this time. Lukasik added the only information provided was from Pedcor, and it wasn’t enough to make a decision.

She also was disappointed the decision was made to allow the project to go forward despite the large amount of opposition.

“I think the process may have been handled differently, [if] we made the decision with information on both sides of the coin, rather than one side,” Lukasik said.

She said the Pedcor decision was the “final straw.”

“I’ve had a great experience with the village. ... I feel like I contributed, [but] I’m at a point that I’m frustrated,” Lukasik said.

Village President Mark Kownick said he believes he made an informed decision on Pedcor, after the village had a Committee of the Whole discussion, two zoning hearings and a Village Board meeting.

He added he did research on his own and visited other Pedcor properties.

Lukasik said at times she has been frustrated on the board, as members at times have discussions that go in circles and the board can be inconsistent with its actions.

“I just think we consistently make a decision and at the next board meeting we’re changing it,” Lukasik said.

Kownick has a different view of the decision-making process.

“One of the things I strived for when I became mayor is to listen to what everyone has to say,” Kownick said. “From meeting to meeting, other information is gathered and people tend to rely on information they gather.”

During her tenure, Lukasik has asked for information and has been accused of micromanaging when asking for information from village staff or even a copy of the personnel manual, she said.

“It’s not micromanaging,” Lukasik said. “I want to make sure we’re doing things right.”

“I think it’s important our residents know what’s going on,” Lukasik said.

Village Administrator Chris Clark said manuals were made available to trustees during the recent updates of employee handbooks.

When asked if he believes he is micromanaged, Village Administrator Chris Clark said he has received good direction during his three years with the village.

“I work for an elected body of seven individuals, the nature of the job is to understand what their policy goals are and implement them and to help work with them to provide information to make decisions and be the guiding post for the village staff,” Clark said.

Lukasik said she wishes communication was better from village staff, and she has felt out of the loop at times.

“I don’t think we have a good system,” Lukasik said. “Everything is a fight. It’s got to be an argument. What’s the big deal. What’s the secret? ... I just want to know. I want to have knowledge.”

Kownick said he maintains an open-door policy for residents, staff and trustees to speak to him.

“I’ve had great success with that. I’ve offered one-on-one meetings if they have questions about things, if they want to voice some concerns or projects they want to work on,” Kownick said. “I typically would make myself available whenever they want to talk.”

Kownick said disagreement among board members is good.

“I’ve made my ideas known, sometimes they go my way, sometimes they don’t,” Kownick said.

Clark said trustees receive weekly updates on Fridays, and trustees receive information for meetings in board packets.

Clark added some trustees may stop by and speak to him in person, some talk to him via telephone, some prefer discussion in email or text message.

“I do not play favorites, but the reality of my role is that when people choose to invest different amounts of time with their respective elected role, I respect that, and for those who spend more time doing it, I don’t say ‘you can’t do that,’” Clark said. “I take that as being additional benefit to us as body, as a village to get work done.”

Kownick said the board has had accomplishments, which included starting an administrative adjudication program, establishing a succession plan in the police department administration and updating the village’s website, projects that were pushed by Lukasik.

Lukasik said she wasn’t sure if she would endorse or support specific candidates in the spring elections, as it will depend on who is running.

“It’s important to do [your] homework and see what the person is about,” Lukasik said. “Sometimes when they get in office, they change.”

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