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3 candidates on 'unity' slate eyeing Cary Village Board seats

McAlpine running for re-election with pair of political newcomers

A slate of three candidates contending that they want to end political polarization on a divided Cary Village Board has emerged in the lead-up to the April election.

The slate is composed of Trustee Ellen McAlpine and two political newcomers: Cary residents Sean Wheeler and Dale Collier.

A pillar of the slate’s story is “unity” and ties into the campaign’s slogan, “We Unite Cary.”

“We want to show Cary what it looks like to have a board that has synergy,” McAlpine said. “Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. I feel that we all like each other. We respect each other. We’re all there to serve the people. It’s bigger than us.”

Collier, McAlpine and Wheeler will run on the same slate for three open seats. As of Friday, Mayor Mark Kownick confirmed that three other candidates had filed to run: Cary resident Tim Ritter and Trustees Kim Covelli and Jim Cosler.

Covelli and Cosler, who campaigned together in 2015, have been at odds with McAlpine since they all were elected the same year. The divide between them expanded in June, when Covelli and Cosler tried to bury an investigation tied to a harassment complaint McAlpine filed against Cosler.

Ask McAlpine if her feud with Cosler and Covelli plays into the campaign, and she’ll say it’s a small part of what her slate’s trying to do.

“We’re not focusing on dysfunction, we’re focusing on the future,” said McAlpine, 57. “We’re focusing on positive things to move our village forward.”

“We don’t want to make this about the failures of others,” said Wheeler, a 28-year-old real estate agent and the incoming president of the Cary-Grove Area Chamber of Commerce.

He lives in Cary with his wife and two children.

“I’m unity or bust,” Wheeler said.

The “We Unite Cary” campaign has launched a website (weunitecary.com) and a YouTube account, where the candidates have published videos captured at Village Board meetings that have been edited to show how frequently Covelli and Cosler vote “no” with Trustees Jeff Kraus and Jennifer Weinhammer – a group McAlpine’s slate has dubbed “The Party of No.”

A centerpiece of one video focuses on a 3-2 vote the board took in June to reject a $60,000 donation from a wealthy Cary couple who wished to keep their identities a secret to the public.

Collier, a 47-year-old vice president at Tri-State Hydraulics in Elk Grove Village, has been watching the drama unfold in Cary as a resident attending meetings.

He thought about running in 2015 but decided to wait another term. Witnessing the tensions of the current board pushed him to run this time around.

“You have to have some unity,” Collier said. “The past is the past for them. They don’t want to move forward in a positive manner. There’s no synergy with the board. I think we can have civil discourse back and forth.”

The “We Unite Cary” slate soon will develop a strategy to plant signs around the village.

On Monday, the group will record the first episode in an ongoing podcast series that touches on village issues and talking points of the upcoming election. The weekly podcast is expected to be released Fridays, McAlpine said.

“We’re really excited about it,” McAlpine said. “All three of us come from a business acumen, which is very important when it comes to filing financials for a village. The work ethic and dedication to serving others is apparent in both [Collier and Wheeler].”

The final deadline for candidates to file petitions with the village is 5 p.m. Monday. The consolidated election is April 2.

“It’s not my job to make friends,” Wheeler said. “It’s my job to mend bridges and open up lines of communication.”

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