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Lakewood Village President Serwatka resigns after months of speculation

After months of speculation, Serwatka’s out

Village President Paul Serwatka responds to a public comment during a village board meeting Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Lakewood.
Village President Paul Serwatka responds to a public comment during a village board meeting Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Lakewood.

Paul Serwatka has resigned as Lakewood village president.

“I guess it’s about time to call it and submit my resignation as village president,” Serwatka wrote in his resignation letter, which he provided to the Northwest Herald. “I’m at the point where I’m now spending a lot more time out of state than I am in Lakewood, and it is becoming more challenging for me to pay due attention to my duties as village president. It’s been quite a ride these past 15 months.”

Serwatka wrote that the village faces numerous challenges. His letter, dated Monday, said his resignation took effect at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“With the ongoing obstructionism from some remaining board members – along with those from the past board/administration that we know have been counseling them to thwart our efforts to not only reform our village government, but to also continue to unearth the unaccounted for expenditures and plunder of the past administration – I sincerely hope that some good folks, with integrity and fortitude, will step up to the plate this coming April and run for village office in the 2019 election to ensure that the accomplishments we have made thus far will not be for naught, or even undone, as Trustees Jason McMahon and Carl Davis so adamantly intend,” he wrote.

Serwatka, 50, told the Northwest Herald he recently moved his family to northern Alabama, near Huntsville. His Turnberry home in the 9800 block of Palmer Drive is for sale. It’s listed on Realtor.com as contingent, meaning an offer has been accepted to sell it, but the sale has not yet closed.

Serwatka was elected in May 2017 on a promise to cut taxes. His term expires in April 2019, so remaining trustees must vote among themselves to choose an interim president.

“If I had my pick, obviously, it would be either [Trustees] Phil Stephan or Doug Ulrich,” he said. “They’re guys who understand their role as a trustee, as a steward of the residents, of the taxpayers.”

Stephan said the board believes the senior member, Trustee J. Carl Davis, should serve as interim president.

“I assume that will be the choice of the trustees, and I’ll side with them,” Stephan said. “That’s probably the best direction for the village. I support all of our trustees.”

Serwatka, who for months has faced intense criticism from residents for making plans to move without stepping down, said he has no regrets.

Serwatka said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family because serving as president meant he devoted “hundreds of hours” to the village. He also said Alabama is run better.

“When you look around and you go to other states and you see, ‘Hey, guess what. They have some good schools, and roads and clean water, and police and fire.’ They have all the same things we have in Illinois, and a lot of them are arguably better and more efficient,” Serwatka said. “Their taxes are half of ours, or 40, 30, 25 percent of what ours are in Illinois. It makes you wonder how are they are able to do all that, provide these services at such a lower amount. Could it be that Illinois is doing something wrong? I think it’s pretty self-apparent when you look around.”

He said he’s most proud of abolishing the village’s $66 million tax increment financing district. A previous board created the TIF district to help spur economic development.

“We stopped an enormous risk,” he said. “That was probably the single biggest driving force for my running for village trustee when I did back in 2015.”

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