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Village of Wheeling

Robert Heer

Patrick Horcher

Judy Abruscato

Dean Argiris


Economic concerns,
village look, image top
trustee campaign

STAFF WRITER for the Wheeling Countryside

Seven candidates are seeking election to the three open trustee positions on the Wheeling Village Board this spring with their sights set on attracting more businesses to the community, improving the village’s appearance and further developing the tax-increment financing district.


All three incumbents, Judy Abruscato, Bob Heer and Patrick Horcher, are seeking re-election. Also on the ballot will be third-time candidate Steven Telow, retired village firefighter Don Malin and plan commissioners Dean Argiris and Thomas Van Zeyl.

Abruscato, 64, is seeking her fourth term as a village trustee. Abruscato wants to maintain Wheeling as a quality home for residents and as a community in which businesses want to locate.

One of her goals for the coming term, and something she’s regularly addressed before the board in previous terms, is to increase the enforcement of village ordinances in an effort to improve appearance.

“I think the only way we can do that is to hire more (community service officers),” Abruscato said. “If the appearance is improved, which it has been, we'll be able to give people a reason to bring their businesses here. We keep attracting people and housing.”

Abruscato also would like to see the TIF district along Milwaukee Avenue completed. Though staff has guided trustees on the development of the TIF, she would like to bring in an expert who could work with the village’s economic development director.

“There are TIF experts out there who can come in, assess what you have and plan it for you,” she said. “They can even help you get a developer interested in the parcels you have left. Part of the downfall of the TIF, besides the (past) litigation, was that we needed to have an expert” from the beginning.

Abruscato is the bank manager at Corus Bank in Wheeling. She and her husband, Mario, have two grown children, Tony of Chicago and Valerie Gross of Wheeling.

Argiris’ goals

As a member of the Wheeling Plan Commission, Argiris believes he’s helped the village become more business-friendly and he wants to encourage economic development as a member of the Village Board.

“I believe I can make a difference. I think we need more people on the board who are doers, not talkers,” said Argiris, who chaired the Plan Commission’s Beautification Committee, which planted flowers along Milwaukee Avenue last spring. “I'm a self-employed businessman. I know what it’s like to come up with new ideas. I think part of being a trustee is bringing ideas to the board and demanding reliability from our staff.”

Argiris would like the village to continue its beautification projects, modernize its shopping centers, seek more grant money to improve the village and aggressively market the tax-increment financing district.

Argiris, 39, is vice president of America Mortgage and owns AIM Insurance Agency, both in Rosemont. He and his wife, Marian, have two children at Field Elementary School, a son in fifth grade and a daughter in third grade.

“I want people to be proud of this community, I am,” Argiris added.

Heer’s agenda

Heer, 42, a Buffalo Grove police officer, is seeking his second term on the Village Board.

“I enjoy it. I like being the representative elected by the residents,” he said.

Among the issues Heer has on his agenda for a second term are working toward completing development of the TIF district along Milwaukee Avenue, improving the appearance along Dundee Road and possibly forming a new TIF district at Dundee and Elmhurst roads.

He'd also like the village to update its computer system and village Web site to give residents and contractors easier access to village ordinances and building codes.

“I also want to hear what the residents want to see the village do for the next four years. It’s their responsibility to talk to their village officials and tell us what they want done,” Heer said.

Heer and his wife, Cathy, have three children, a son who’s a freshman at Wheeling High School, a son in fifth grade at Whitman Elementary School and a daughter in third grade at Whitman.

Horcher’s sense

Horcher, 35, said he is seeking re-election to a second term to continue offering a common-sense approach to village issues.

Though many issues face the village in the coming years, such as the TIF district and future development at Palwaukee Airport, Horcher wants residents to contact the candidates, tell the candidates what issues are important to them, and learn where the candidates stand on the issues.

“I am a representative of the community. I try to vote on issues and policies as I normally would because I feel people elected me for my point of view,” he said. “People should take a minute and contact the candidates.”

Horcher does want to see a number of public works projects move forward during his next term. Public works has suggested replacing water mains, the pedestrian bridge over Dundee Road at London School and streetlights.

“In the last couple of years, since the last election, we've been more willing to consider those projects,” Horcher said. “The old administration had shelved a lot of these projects. We know how valuable these types of projects are. I want to get the village up to date.

“I think I provide a common sense point of view on the board, and I'm not afraid to compromise,” Horcher added. “I want a board that can agree to disagree with each other, then move on to other issues.”

Horcher works for the family businesses, including Horcher’s flower shop on McHenry Road. He and his wife, Stacey, have two children, a 3-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.

Malin’s menu

Malin, 50, is running for trustee because he believes the board needs some new blood.

“After dealing with the village for 27 years, I feel I have a unique perspective,” said Malin, a lifelong Wheeling resident and former Wheeling firefighter who retired last June. “I think some of the developers who have brought in good ideas have been turned away. The projects that are going along are slow. As a lifelong resident, you know the people and the things they want to do.”

Route 83 is being widened by the state, and Malin wants the village to conduct studies to determine whether stoplights are needed along the thoroughfare to assist children who walk to nearby schools. For village employees, he said, the health insurance package needs to be reviewed because the employees’ share of the premiums continues to rise.

“To go into the millennium stagnant is sad,” he said. “On the short term, I think the TIF should be expanded along the east side to clean it up and attract more restaurants. We don’t want people to drive through Wheeling, we'd like them to stop.”

Malin and his wife, Arlene, have two children, a daughter who’s a senior at Harper Community College and a son who’s a senior at Wheeling High School.

Telow’s task

Third time trustee candidate Telow, 77, wants to serve as the voice for Wheeling’s senior citizens.

“Many seniors are living on $4,000 to $7,000 a year, and they’re prisoners in their own homes,” said Telow, a member of the Northwest Tax Watch. “The people we have (on the board) are nice people, but many of their votes aren’t favorable to the taxpayers. The seniors are being overlooked.”

Though board members elected two years ago promised to help improve conditions in the Whippletree mobile home park, Telow said, nothing has been done since. He would like the village to offer lower water and garbage bills for seniors.

“Even the seniors who own their homes can’t afford them. The taxes are too high. The seniors deserve a better life,” Telow said. “Seniors need to vote on election day and show (village officials) they count also.”

Telow said he’s dissatisfied with the current board, largely because of how trustees spend taxpayers’ money.

“They paid an overpriced amount for the Meyer property. They put up a fancy train station that no one uses and put up a clocktower that no one sees,” he said.

Telow, a member of the village’s Beautification Committee, would like to see some excitement on Milwaukee Avenue, such as a neon-lit waterfall.

“If you want to clean up Milwaukee Avenue, you have to draw attention to it. Make it brilliant,” he added.

Telow and his wife, Shirley, have four grown children.

Van Zeyl's version (write-in candidate)

Thomas P. Van Zeyl, 34, has lived in Wheeling for two-and-a-half years, but in that short amount of time he has been actively involved with the village, serving as a plan commissioner since November 1997 and working on the village’s Beautification Committee.

He’s also worked on a village task force that recommended the formation of the Wheeling Economic Development Commission and the hiring of an economic development director and is a member of the Illinois State Crime Commission.

A first-time candidate, Van Zeyl wants to improve local roads, build a positive image of Wheeling and solicit more grant money from the state and federal governments for local projects.

“Anytime you have roadwork you’re going to be affected by that. I'd encourage the village to work with IDOT to find ways to make the projects a little more bearable for residents,” Van Zeyl said of better timing the construction work. “I also want to continue to present the best possible image of the village. Obviously we’re headed in the right direction with the beautification projects.”

Last year, Van Zeyl went to Springfield with Village President Greg Klatecki to lobby for an education grant that was later given to the village. Wheeling, he said, needs to continue to apply for grants for its projects to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

“I'm going to continue to give Wheeling a spot on the map and bridge the gap between Wheeling and Springfield to try to get as much grant money as we can,” said Van Zeyl, a special projects coordinator for state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash, D-60th.

Van Zeyl is single.

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