Board candidates offer mixed messages on Mundelein
The six candidates vying for three four-year seats on the Mundelein Village Board offered opinions ranging from the pragmatic to the pessimistic when asked about their thoughts on the village by the Daily Herald recently.
The April 4 election pit incumbents Ray Semple and Dawn Abernathy against former Trustee Robin Meier, plan commission member Scott Black, and challengers Karthik Chandramouli and Jeanne Cygnus. While the village elections are nonpartisan, Chandramouli and Cygnus are part of a coalition dubbed A Mundelein United. Semple, Abernathy and Black are running independently.
When questioned about the biggest challenge facing Mundelein, Semple offered brimming optimism, Cygnus cited concerns for small-business owners, and Chandramouli remarked on his worries for the village’s reputation.
Abernathy talked about her fears that the village could be affected by the state’s budget. Since Mundelein’s spending is partly based on an expectation of revenue from the Illinois government – which hasn’t had a budget in two years -- Abernathy is not confident the state will pay up.
She reiterated her stance against increasing property taxes, which she voted against in December, and argued that the village should instead reduce spending. Abernathy has served one term as a trustee and fell short of an Illinois House seat in November.
Semple, a trustee since 1995, offered a rosier outlook.
"Mundelein has truly never looked better than it has right now," he said. "It's a fun time to be a trustee."
Semple pointed to what he sees as a strong economic recovery, with businesses moving into town following the end of the recession. Specifically, he noted the successes of the Hawley Lake Plaza shopping center renovation and the Jewel-Osco store opening.
Black shared Semple’s enthusiasm for the economic outlook. A plan commission member for the past 21 years, he said he is encouraged by the recent commercial and residential growth in Mundelein and believes the village board should prioritize redeveloping the downtown area.
"I've never seen the village in a better position to take advantage of this growth," Black said. "We have a tremendous opportunity to really reshape the downtown district like never before."
Meier, who served on the board from 2008 to 2015, was not so enthusiastic about the village’s economic performance. Specifically, she said the village board is not running efficiently or encouraging innovation.
"It needs to flow a lot faster,” Meier said. “It needs to have a very steady current, and you have to have some innovative people really pushing and going out there to do that."
Cygnus has experienced Mundelein’s recent economy from a private sector perspective and said the village board needs to do more to assist local entrepreneurs. A small-business owner herself, Cygnus worries that village departments have created a confusing business atmosphere hard for potential entrepreneurs to navigate.
"I'd like to make that a much smoother, simpler process," Cygnus said.
Chandramouli, who is also a government outsider and works as a business consultant, said the village is not effectively managing its reputation.
"We are our Google results?" he asked. "When people Google ‘Mundelein,’ what do they see? Do they hear controversy and bickering and negativity, or do they see a positive vision? Do they have government that's accountable?"