Tag Archives: Ethan Hastert

Village Board agrees to keep current meeting schedule for a full year

ELBURN—Elburn village trustees on Monday agreed to continue meeting only twice a month for now, even though half of them had previously expressed a desire to return to a weekly schedule.

Trustee Jeff Walter at the Nov. 4 meeting brought up “feeling out of the loop” and somewhat disjointed on village issues after the schedule was changed.

Trustees Pat Schuberg and Dave Gualdoni agreed with Walter, both saying that they didn’t feel the current schedule was adequate for the number of items and new development coming.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff coming up,” Gualdoni said.

Trustees Ethan Hastert and Bill Grabarek said they could see the merits of both sides, and trustee Ken Anderson said he preferred the current schedule of twice a month.

“We’re well kept in the loop,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the weekly update that Village Administrator Erin Willrett compiles for the board members keeps them up to speed on the village’s activities. He said that with the provision that any two trustees can request a special meeting in between the current ones leaves that option open, if needed.

Walter acknowledged that he appreciated receiving the agenda and the packets of information on Wednesday for this week’s meetings as opposed to Friday, giving them more time to prepare for the Monday meetings.

Village President Dave Anderson reiterated his preference for fewer meetings per month. He said he understood that the decision was up to the board, but he felt the reduced schedule has increased everyone’s efficiency.

“To meet just to meet is, in my opinion, the epitome of inefficiency,” he said. “If you have a question or need more information, you need to speak up. You’re all smart people. It’ll get done.”

All of the board members agreed to continue with the twice a month schedule for now, and to revisit the question next April.

Board members feeling ‘out of the loop’

Question whether meeting twice a month is enough
ELBURN—The move for the Elburn Village Board to meet twice a month instead of four times a month has caused some trustees to feel “out of the loop,” as noted during some of the discussions that took place on Monday.

During a presentation by Finance Director Doug Elder on a proposed property tax levy for the village, trustee Jeff Walter said he was concerned that he didn’t know how village staff had arrived at the amount Elder presented.

Trustees eventually unanimously approved the proposed levy amount for $824,000 and set a public hearing for Monday, Dec. 2, at Village Hall. The public hearing is necessary because the amount is more than 105 percent of the previous year’s extension of $695,000.

However, the discussion preceding the vote revealed the discomfort of several of the trustees due to the increased time between the meetings and the amount of time they have to review the information prior to the meetings.

“It seems like we’re going into this without much discussion,” Walter said. “We have a number here on paper and I’m not sure where this number came from. It’s like, ‘Here’s the number, guys. Let’s vote on it.’”

Up until last summer, the Village Board met on the first and third Mondays of the month, with the Committee of the Whole meetings scheduled for the second and fourth Mondays.

The Committee of the Whole meetings are when discussion regarding items before the board takes place. The Village Board meetings are where votes are taken to approve those items.

A few months ago, the board began meeting twice a month on the first and third Mondays, with both the Committee of the Whole and the Village Board meetings taking place on the same evening.

Trustees receive the packet of information on the Friday prior to the Monday meetings, which Walter said leaves little time for them to review the items and prepare.

“I’m not feeling like we’re in the loop anymore,” Walter said. “We should be coming in here completely prepared to vote on the issues. We really need time to digest this stuff.”

Village President Dave Anderson mentioned the weekly report that Village Administrator Erin Willrett sends out to board members, encouraging them to call her or other staff members with questions. He noted that he was at Village Hall every day.

“And I’m not,” trustee Dave Gualdoni responded. “Some of this stuff needs to be discussed by everyone at this table, and it’s not.”

Trustee Bill Grabarek said that meeting only twice a month during the summer made sense when not as much was happening, but now that the village is seeing more activity, meeting more often might be warranted.

Trustee Ken Anderson, who works for Kane County, said they meet once a month, and keep up with issues through the use of executive summaries.

Dave Anderson said he prefers meeting less frequently, because it allows Village Administrator Erin Willrett to be more efficient, with less time preparing for board meetings and more time to do her job.

Grabarek said he could see both sides of the issue. However, he stated that he could see an advantage to meeting four times a month.

Since trustees Ethan Hastert and Pat Schuberg were not in attendance at the meeting, the other board members agreed to continue the discussion when they could all participate.

Board allows video gaming in Elburn

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn village trustee Ken Anderson’s question to his fellow board members, “How does this (video gambling) improve the quality of life in Elburn?” went unanswered on Monday evening.

Instead, the board voted 5-1 to approve an ordinance allowing video gaming machines in Elburn establishments that serve liquor.

Village Board members Bill Grabarek and Jeff Walter had joined Anderson in 2009 in voting for a ban on video gaming. However, Walter, who said two business owners in town had recently approached him about revisiting the ban, brought video gaming before the board again last month.

“What concerns me is Blackberry Inn has allowed it,” Walter said at the time. “Are we going to lose customers? Are we going to lose tax dollars?”

Blackberry Bar & Grill, south of town in unincorporated Kane County, installed three video gaming machines last fall after Kane County reversed its ban on video gaming. Two more machines were delivered on Feb. 20 for a total of five altogether, the maximum allowed.
Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 10.51.12 AM
The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality (or in the case of an unincorporated area, the county) receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenues.

Anderson had said he was concerned about the message that allowing the machines in town would send, as well as enabling people to gamble away money they could not afford to lose.

However, trustee Dave Gualdoni and Village President Dave Anderson said they didn’t feel they should dictate to others how to live their lives. In addition, Dave Anderson said that if people didn’t gamble in Elburn, the opportunity exists four miles down the road.

Grabarek said he had received phone calls and emails from residents asking him why he had decided to reverse his earlier stance on the machines, and stated that he didn’t want to hurt the businesses in town. He said he would like to see how it goes, and that the village could hold a referendum in a couple of years if the board members thought the issue needed to be looked at again.

Trustees Jerry Schmidt, Ethan Hastert, Walter, Grabarek and Gualdoni voted in favor of the video gaming ordinance.

Tavern owners who have a liquor license may apply for a video gaming license through the Illinois Gaming Board. Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt—trustee Schmidt’s son—and Knucklehead’s owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would apply for the license.

The Elburn Lions Club initially considered applying for a license, but ultimately decided not to pursue it.

What’s the plan?

Web Editor’s note: The Elburn Herald incorrectly referred to trustee Jeff Walter as “Jeff Walker” in the print edition of this story. The Herald regrets the error.

Board not ready to vote on Comprehensive Plan
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Village Board members concluded they are not ready to vote on the draft Comprehensive Plan on Monday, March 18, based on concerns regarding some of the elements of the plan.

Images, Inc., the consulting firm that created the plan, based on input from a number of groups and residents within the village, presented it to the board in a public hearing on March 4. The main concerns board members had were the placing of commercial and industrial parcels in areas far from Elburn’s central downtown area and the amount of growth the plan shows.

“That’s a substantial amount of growth,” trustee Ken Anderson said. “I just don’t know how realistic that is by 2040.”

Anderson went on to say that some of the spots identified for commercial and industrial growth have substantial soil and flooding issues, making it “very unlikely that a commercial development would be viable there.”

“So why show it?” he asked. “We’re creating the value for parcels that don’t have that value now.”

Trustee Jeff Walter had questions about how showing these uses within the Land Use plan would bind the village for the future.

Village attorney Bob Britz said that in litigating zoning matters, the courts address eight factors, with the No. 1 thing the judges look at being the Land Use plan.

Walter said he didn’t think the board was ready to vote on the plan.

“I feel that our comments have been brushed aside, with no plan for addressing any of them,” he said.

Anderson had asked Images, Inc. Carrie Hanson for population numbers, based on the elements of the plan. He said he will be interested to see what those are.

The trustees agreed that they would use the March 25 Committee of the Whole for more discussion about the plan. Village President Dave Anderson and trustee Ethan Hastert were not present at the meeting on Monday.

Video gaming vote postponed

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village President Dave Anderson on Monday put off voting on the video gaming issue, due to the absence of two trustees. Jerry Schmidt was on vacation, and Ethan Hastert was called out of town for work.

Elburn resident Al Herra still had some feedback for the board on the issue.

“Before you vote on this, you should think about who wins,” Herra said. “It’s not the community that wins.”

Herra said that the people who lose their money at video gaming end up not having it to spend at other businesses. Calling it a redistribution of the money in town, he said that the only winners are the state of Illinois and the bar with the machines.

The Village Board first considered video gaming in 2009, when trustees implemented a ban on it in the village of Elburn. Although Walter was in favor of the ban at that time, he said that since then, the state has clarified the rules for how it would work.

In addition, Kane County has since reversed its ban, allowing the Blackberry Bar & Grill south of town to install machines last fall. Some of the trustees said they were concerned that Elburn’s dollars would be spent outside of town, including places such as the bar and grill.

Blackberry Bar & Grill owner Pam Moutray said she has been pleased with the results since they installed the machines. They had three put in last fall, and recently added two more, for the five machine maximum.

Moutray stated that she knows some people have concerns that the machines will attract “seedy” people, but said that has “absolutely not been the case.”

“We have husbands and wives who come in together, and they are happy to have some place to go,” she said. “They’re happy to have a neighborhood place to spend their money.”

Moutray said she is also pleased with the revenues the machines are bringing in.

“Our cut has met our expectations and then some,” she said.

The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent of the revenues, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenue.

Sugar Grove has also lifted its ban, but will hold a citizen referendum on the issue in the spring. The referendum is non-binding and advisory, which means the board is not required to change anything, based on the results of the vote.

Elburn resident Fred Houdek also had some feedback for the board on video gaming, and said he feels that bringing video gaming to Elburn doesn’t really fit with the values of the Elburn residents, and that it “sends the wrong message.”

“I don’t think we’re the ones that are going to profit,” he said.

Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt and Knuckleheads Tavern owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would install the machines in their bars. Although the Elburn Lions Club initially considered video gaming at its facility, Park Board Treasurer Tim Klomhaus said that they had ultimately decided against it.

Anderson did not say when the video gaming issue would be brought before the board.

Elburn Station vote set for March 18

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Negotiations on the Elburn Station development are down to the details, and a new date of Monday, March 18, has been set for a Village Board vote regarding the final agreement.

The board will meet on Monday, March 4, but trustee Jerry Schmidt will be absent.

The board came back on Monday with a few modifications to the agreements Village President Dave Anderson, ShoDeen developer Dave Patzelt and attorneys hammered out on Friday.

At trustee Jeff Walter’s suggestion, Village Attorney Bob Britz added the requirement that the single-family housing would be the first to be built.

“My fear is that the apartments will get built first, and apartments cost (the village) more than single-family housing,” Walter said.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said the pedestrian bridge will cost significantly more than the $900,000 estimate Patzelt used to determine his share of the cost, because in order to obtain grant money, it will need to be Americans with Disabilities Act-approved. Although several other trustees agreed with that assessment, Anderson said that was the number they had been using, and the board had agreed to it.

Grabarek also said he was still uncomfortable with sharing any grant money for the pedestrian bridge with the developer, but Anderson said that the way it was set up was a better deal than giving up the village’s share of the recapture fees from future developers, and the $200 per housing unit impact fee.

“I think, your way, the village loses,” Anderson said. “Any grant money over $900,000 goes to pay for the bridge. I’m on that bandwagon.”

Trustee Ethan Hastert said he agreed with Anderson.

“We share everything above $900,000. That’s a better deal,” he said.

Other board members went along with Grabarek’s suggestion of changing the requirement that the pedestrian bridge be finished within three years of completion of the commercial part of the development or the money would go back to ShoDeen. Grabarek said that he would be more comfortable with three years to obtain the contract for the bridge.

However, since the pedestrian bridge will link the new development to the current downtown area, board members said it was in everybody’s best interest to get the bridge built as soon as possible. Anderson and Kane County Board member Drew Frasz have each reached out to local legislators for assistance in obtaining funding for the bridge.

The final total number of housing units for the ShoDeen development around the Elburn train station is set at 2,215, a reduction of 60 from the most recent number of 2,275. The board set a limit on multi-family and/or rental units at 400, with up to an additional 200 allowed, as long those were targeted for residents 55 years and older. The plan will also include mixed use and commercial development.

The Village Board had tabled discussions on the development in October 2012, when several trustees said they were not happy with some parts of the plan. Construction on the Anderson Road bridge has also been on hold since then, as ShoDeen owns the land needed for the bridge’s right of way, and the annexation agreement for the Elburn Station is tied to ShoDeen’s negotiations with Kane County for the bridge.

Frasz, who attended the meeting, said that a few more weeks likely wouldn’t put the federal funding for the bridge in jeopardy.

“Weeks, no. Months, yes,” he said.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Elburn resident Walter Geisler made a plea to the board to put the brakes on the approval process.

“I love Elburn. I just don’t want it to get out of control,” Geisler said. “It’s a massive project and we can’t even plow our streets. I’m afraid for my kids. They’ll be taxed out of living in Elburn.”

Geisler said that he wanted to bring back the idea of having a public referendum in which the residents could vote on whether or not they want the Elburn Station.

Anderson said he would be happy to have a referendum, but only if everyone who voted had read all of the documents that he and the board members have read. He pointed to the large pile of papers in front of him.

“You have to be educated to make an educated decision,” he said. “We’ll make our decision based on the facts. Everybody here (on the board) is a taxpayer. We were elected to make these decisions.”

Fred Houdek, the next citizen to speak said that he had a great deal of faith in the leaders of the village to make good decisions.

“Let’s get ‘er done,” Houdek said. “You’re down to getting your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed.”

Britz reminded the board that it needs a two-thirds vote, or a total of five board members, to approve the annexation agreement.

“I’ll be there, if they have to carry me here on a stretcher,” Schmidt said.

Village trustees renew Elburn Station development discussion

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village Board members on Monday renewed discussions regarding the Elburn Station development.

Village trustees identified their main sticking points with ShoDeen and the development plan. They discussed ways to address concerns that include the density of the development, the ratio of rental units to overall housing, inadequate developer funding toward construction of a footbridge and concerns about the financial viability of the developer.

Although the village still has additional information to gather, its goal is to go back to ShoDeen principal Dave Patzelt with recommendations.

Trustee Ethan Hastert started out the conversation, as he had been the one to suggest they come back to discuss their concerns and how best to deal with them.

“ShoDeen owns that property,” Hastert said. “It makes sense for the village to get the best possible development out of the developer.”

Hastert said he thought there should be a published number of average rental units for a town the size of Elburn, and asked village staff to do the research on the topic.

The current plan for the Elburn Station calls for 800 rental units, many of which had been initially designated as condominiums. This number would create a ratio of 36 percent rental units within the development. The village is currently 84.5 percent owner-occupied and 15.4 percent rental units.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said that he still had concerns about ShoDeen’s financial health, referring back to the company’s loan default on the Tanna Farms Golf Course.

Although Village President Dave Anderson said that the bankers would make that call by deciding whether or not to bond the developer, other trustees were not satisfied with that solution.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he did not want to go through another four-year process to get the promised improvements completed. Four years is how long it took to obtain a response from the bankers holding the bonds on the Blackberry Creek Subdivision regarding improvements left undone by B&B. Elburn has yet to receive that money.

Other trustees suggested that they might place some restrictions on the developers to keep them from starting another phase of the development until the current phase requirements are completed.

“Maybe we can require that the improvements are done, such as roads finished, infrastructure completed, before more units are built,” trustee Ken Anderson said.

Grabarek said he would be happier if some of the rental units were designated as senior housing. He said he would like to see a variety of housing options that would be appropriate for the entire lifetime of a resident “from cradle to grave.”

Although most of the discussion centered around board members’ concerns about the plan, trustee Jerry Schmidt had a different perspective on the matter.

“I have a different mindset than you,” he said. “We need that bridge. The hours that are wasted out here on Route 47 (waiting for a train); we’ve got to get Elburn jump-started.”

The Anderson Road extension and bridge has been tied to the Elburn Station development, with ShoDeen the owner of the property needed for the right-of-way. The extension would be a 2-mile bypass road, around Route 47 through Elburn, that would extend Anderson Road from Keslinger Road to Route 38 and provide a bridge over the railroad tracks.

Approximately $18 million in federal funding was set aside in a 2005 transportation bill to build the bridge, and Kane County officials made building the bridge a priority for the region, providing $3 million of the funding, as well. The Elburn Village Board in October decided to table the vote on Shodeen’s development until the bridge is built.

Schmidt said he wondered how long the federal dollars set aside for the Anderson Road and bridge construction would still be there. Village president Dave Anderson said he would ask someone from the Kane County Transportation Department to come out and give them some input.

The discussion will continue at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Jan. 14. Anderson said the earliest the board could vote on its recommendations would be at the board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Board to discuss Elburn Station in new year

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Proposed Shodeen development Elburn Station will be a topic for discussion at the Elburn Village Board’s first meeting in 2013.

Village trustee Ethan Hastert on Monday asked for the discussion to take place at the next regularly scheduled meeting, set for Monday, Jan. 7, 2013.

“We all heard from residents about their issues with the development,” Hastert said. “If we can address those with Shodeen, we’ll end up with a better development.”

Hastert said these issues include the number of non-owner-occupied housing units, or rentals, as well as the density within the development.

The current plan for the development calls for 800 rental units, with the ratio of rental units to the overall number of housing units at 36 percent. According to trustee Bill Grabarek, who made the motion in October to table the discussions regarding the development, the village is currently 84.5 percent owner-occupied and 15.4 percent rental units.

Hastert said he doesn’t see who wins if the board lets the development die.

The board on Oct. 16 tabled the vote on the Elburn Station development until the Anderson Road Bridge was built. Hastert was one of three trustees who voted against tabling it. He said at the time that, although he shared some of the other trustees’ concerns about the density of the development, he would rather deal with it than “kick it down the road.”

Hastert on Monday said the village can get on with addressing the infrastructure issue, referring to the Anderson Road extension and bridge. This project has been on hold since the board tabled discussions regarding the residential development.

The road extension was to be used as a bypass for Route 47, diverting truck traffic around Main Street in Elburn.

Shodeen owns the property for the right-of-way for the bridge. The plan to extend Anderson Road from Route 38 to Keslinger Road and build a bridge over the railroad tracks has been connected to the approval of the Elburn Station development.

Kane County had agreed to pay $3 million of the $22 million road and bridge project, with the majority of the remaining amount coming from federal and state funding.

DeKalb resident shares concerns about proposed Shodeen development
A DeKalb resident attended Monday night’s Elburn Village Board meeting to share some information regarding a potential Shodeen development in her city.

According to Bessie Chronopoulos, approximately 40 acres of land within the Kiwanis Park was being considered for development. She said that more than 600 residents have signed a petition voicing their opposition to the development of park land.

Chronopoulos said that, in their research, DeKalb residents came upon information regarding Shodeen’s potential development in Elburn. She said they also found the Elburn village website, with its motto of “Better, not just bigger.”

“I like that,” she said.

“Why, we ask, with several empty houses, approved developments, which have stopped short of completion, and an overabundance of multiple housing, why are we looking at approving more housing?” Chronopoulos read from a prepared statement. “Sounds like we should all be reflecting and communicating more regularly about housing … at the local, county and, perhaps, regional level.”

Parking, other violations may soon cost more in Elburn

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Parking illegally in Elburn could soon cost you more money.

The Village Board will vote Monday, Nov. 5, on a schedule of fines that were previously discussed at the village Committee of the Whole meeting on Oct. 9.

Trustees reviewed the proposal, written for the Police Department by Village Attorney Bob Britz, at a board meeting earlier this year.

The rewrite of the traffic code ordinances includes the creation of three tiers of fines for various classes of offenses. The tiers are established to separate minor petty offenses, ranging from parking tickets to more serious offenses that could compromise public health, safety or welfare of residents or visitors, such as the storage of an inoperable or derelict vehicle. The amount of the fine increases with each additional time the offense is committed.

A number of the fees recommended were double what they had been in the past. For example, a parking ticket currently carries a fine of $20. The new proposal is for a fine of $40 for the first offense, with a second offense at $80 and a third offense set at $120.

Subsequent offenses will carry a fine of $50 times the number of repeat offenses, with a maximum fine of $750 for each offense.

Several trustees during the initial discussion expressed concerns over the amounts of the fines.

“This seems a little steep to me,” trustee Ethan Hastert said.

Hastert was particularly concerned over the amounts and their escalation for multiple offenses in the Metra parking lot. He brought up the fact that a commuter could pay the parking fee at the train station, but mix up the number of the stall he parked in, resulting in a parking ticket for that offense.

The revised proposal maintains the fines for Metra parking violations at their current rates of $20 for the first offense, $40 for the second offense and $80 for the third offense, and fourth and subsequent offenses at $30 times the number of repeat offenses, with the same $750 maximum fine. General parking violation fines were left at the higher rates.

Hastert said that he continues to have concerns, especially for the amounts charged for multiple offenses. He said that someone could get a parking ticket, and another one years later, and end up paying the increased amount.

“Could we make these repetitions for within a calendar year?” he asked.

After some discussion, trustees agreed on increased fines for repeat offenses within a 12-month period.

Chief Steve Smith said that the increases put Elburn’s fines more in line with those of surrounding communities. Smith said that Elburn attorney Bob Britz had also worked with Oswego to create the three tiers of violations with varying fines.

The way the fines will be adjudicated has not been worked out yet, Smith said.

Parking violation fines
for surrounding municipalities

Geneva
General parking violations $10
Parking violations near train station
(parking longer than time limit)
1-3 violations $2
4-9 violations $10
10+ violations $25

Snow parking violations $30
Handicapped violations $250

Oswego
Class one violations
(minor petty offenses)
1 violation $55
2 violations $75
3 and more $100

Sugar Grove
General parking violations $25
Handicapped violations $250

maple park
General parking violations In Process

Elburn
Class one parking violations
(minor petty offenses)
1 violation $40
2 violations $80
3 violations $120
Metra parking violations
1 violation $20
2 violations $40
3 violations $80

Elburn tables ShoDeen development

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village President Dave Anderson on Monday broke a 3-3 tie, tabling the Elburn Station development.

Trustee Bill Grabarek reiterated his concerns about the development, including financial issues raised by the foreclosure of developer ShoDeen’s Tanna Farms Golf Course in Geneva, and the increased number of rental units in the plan.

The current plan calls for 800 rental units, many of which had been designated as condominiums in the initial plan.

Grabarek said that approving the Elburn Station development in light of the golf course issue would be a “moral hazard” for Elburn, and the village could possibly end up in a situation similar to the one in which it currently finds itself with Blackberry Creek. The village is currently in discussions with Blackberry Creek developer B&B Enterprise’s bond company in an attempt to complete infrastructure improvements left undone by B&B.

Grabarek said he thought the rental unit to owner-occupied homes ratio was “out of place” in Elburn. The village is currently 84.5 percent owner-occupied and 15.4 percent rental units. The development would have a ratio of 36 percent rental units.

Grabarek made a motion to table the vote on the Elburn Station development until the Anderson Road Bridge was built. Trustees Jeff Walter and Dave Gualdoni voted with Grabarek; trustees Ken Anderson, Ethan Hastert and Jerry Schmidt voted against tabling it. Village President Dave Anderson added his vote to break the tie, tabling the vote.

“We were hoping to be moving dirt by now (on the Anderson Road bridge),” Kane County Board member Drew Frasz said. “They’re shovel ready.”

The fate of the project to extend Anderson Road from Route 38 to Keslinger Road and build a bridge over the railroad tracks has been connected to the approval of the Elburn Station development.

Grabarek stated that he was not happy about the Anderson Road project being held “hostage” by the development. Anderson Road was to be used as a bypass for Route 47, diverting truck traffic around Main Street in Elburn.

The right-of-way property to the bridge is owned by ShoDeen. Kane County has agreed to pay $3 million of the $22 million project, with the majority of the remaining amount coming from federal and state funding.

Frasz said that the county would have to “pick up the pieces” and “go back to square one” on the plan for the Anderson Road bridge. He added that, should the project go dormant, the federal money might get channeled somewhere else.

“There’s always 10 people waiting for every $1,” Frasz said. “The county will have to look at whether we want to go it alone.”

After the vote, trustee Jeff Walter and some of the other trustees said that they were still interested in considering the development; they just did not want to consider it now or in its current configuration.

After the meeting, Walter said he made the motion to table the vote because there were too many issues he thought should still be negotiated differently with the developer.

In addition to the density of the development and the large number of rental units, Walter said he also would like to see some of the impact fees changed, and to set aside some of the 800 rental units for senior housing.

Trustee Ethan Hastert had some of the same issues with the development, although his vote was not to table it.

“I would rather address the issues than table the vote,” he said.

Hastert said that, although he shared Walter’s opinion about the density of the development, he would rather bring it up now rather than “kick it down the road.”

“Voting it down would’ve been a good thing,” Hastert said. “We would have gone back to the negotiating table. Now, a critical piece of infrastructure (the bridge) is in jeopardy.”

Dave Anderson said that he broke the tie because he wanted to keep the door open for the development to obtain approval.

“I didn’t want to say no, and I didn’t think the annexation agreement would pass. (an annexation agreement needs a super-majority—two-thirds—vote).They still own the land, and we still want to work with them.”

Dave Patzelt, president of ShoDeen, left the meeting without comment.

Police chief recommends increase in parking fines

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Parking illegally in the village of Elburn could soon get a lot more expensive, according to a rewrite of the traffic codes.

“It was a real bargain to get a parking ticket in Elburn,” Police Chief Steve Smith told the Village Board on Monday night.

The proposal, written for the Police Department by the office of the village attorney, Bob Britz, includes three tiers of fines for various classes of offenses, from minor petty offenses, such as parking tickets, to more serious offenses that could compromise public health, safety or welfare of residents or visitors, such as the storage of an inoperable or derelict vehicle. The amount of the fine increases with each additional time the offense is committed.

The new proposal, presented by Smith, recommends doubling the amount of the fines from what they had been. For example, currently a parking ticket carries with it a fine of $20. The new proposal is for a fine of $40 for the first offense, with a second offense at $80 and a third offense set at $120.

“Do we have a problem with people not paying their parking tickets?” asked trustee Ethan Hastert. “This seems a little steep to me.”

Hastert brought up a situation in which a commuter could pay the parking fee at the train station, but mix up the number of the stall he parked in, and receive a parking ticket for that offense.

Several other trustees expressed concern over the amount of the fines, including Bill Grabarek and Jeff Walter. Trustee Ken Anderson said that he just wanted to make up the amount that it costs the village to give someone a ticket.

“The Police Department should not be a profit center,” Hastert said. “Not everything the Police Department does needs to be a break-even.”

Village President Dave Anderson said that the board has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens to maintain a balanced budget.

Village staff will revisit the dollar amounts of the fines and the board will vote on the final version at an upcoming meeting.

Rounds of applause, toasts of thanks

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—The Village Board gave its thanks amid rounds of applause and bottled water toasts to Gordon Diershaw and Patricia Rompke, who turned over their seats on the board at Monday’s meeting, following the reading of the certified election results.

“I’ve had a super eight-year run, and I hope these people will carry on,” Diershaw toasted.

New trustees Dave Gualdoni and Ethan Hastert, along with returning board member Bill Grabarek, were then sworn in to four-year terms on the board and took their seats at the table.

Elburn’s three precincts, of which the village is only a part of each, returned 599 votes cast, or 18.82 percent of the vote.

Gualdoni, a part-time employee of the village, resigned his position.

Q&A: Elburn Village Board

Note: Voters can vote for up to three candidates.

Candidates for
Elburn Village Board
Name: Richard C. Garcia
Candidate did not respond.

Name: Audrey Symowicz
Age: 32
Education and employment background: Elgin Community College graduate; currently customer service, previous experience in retail, office administration and municipality.

Name: William C. Grabarek
Age: 71
Education and employment background: Education: B.A. Roosevelt University—1968; J.D. John Marshall Law School—1975; Registered Patent Attorney-U.S. Patent & Trademark Office—1980;
Employment: Pre-1976—various positions within the chemical industry; 1976 to 1977—Associate attorney with Kolar & Conte, Chicago, IL; 1977 to 1994—Midwest House Counsel-Witco Corporation, Midwest office; 1994 to present—Private practice, Elburn;
Civic experience: Lazarus House—Director/ Secretary and Founding Member; Friends of the Town & Country Public Library—Director/Treasurer & Founding Member; Fox Valley Wildlife Center—Director/Secretary; 2006 recipient of the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award;
Village of Elburn positions held: Planning Commissioner 1993-2003; Planning Commission Chairperson 1995-2003; Trustee 2003-2011

Name: David J. Gualdoni
Age: 38
Education and employment background:
Graduated Burlington Central High School, various FEMA and IEMA classes; Work full-time for city of Geneva, village of Elburn

Name: Ethan Hastert
Age: 33
Education and employment background: I graduated from Yorkville High School, earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and my law degree from the Northwestern University School of Law.
I am an attorney in private practice in Chicago, specializing in complex, commercial litigation in state and federal courts. I also serve as Honorary Consul for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Earlier in my career, I served in the White House as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor in the Office of the Vice President of the United States.

How would you define
the role of your office?

Symowicz: The role of a village trustee is somebody that represents the residents. A trustee needs to keep the residents and village’s best interest in mind when considering and voting on issues. Being able to communicate with residents about questions within the village is another important ability of a Trustee.

Grabarek: I see a village trustee’s responsibility as fiduciary by its nature and legislative in its power. As fiduciaries, we must provide the services necessary to protect the health, safety and general welfare of our residents. As a member of the Village Board, a trustee must prudently manage our village’s finances and assets, as well as provide leadership. Leadership is expressed through one’s ability to build consensus at both the board level and amongst our residents.
It is expressed through thoughtful review and support of proposed village projects, whether at the infrastructure level or within the village’s public policy area through ordinance enactments or amendments. And, I suggest, that a trustee’s leadership skill and his or her attentiveness to one’s fiduciary responsibilities are clearly exhibited through intense and thoughtful participation in the development and oversight of our village’s budget.

Gualdoni: My role as a trustee will be to represent the people of Elburn. I will also make sure that the village remains fiscally responsible in these tough times and that village services are not cut. I believe that working with the board and staff as a team that the village of Elburn will be able to offer better services and make our tax dollars go a lot further.

Hastert: I believe that it is the job of our village trustees to ensure that Elburn remains a community where people want to live, raise a family and run a business. If elected, I would do that by: insisting on fiscal responsibility—less spending and more saving produces a more responsible government, lower taxes and sustainable economic prosperity; insisting on smart, measured and well-planned development—I will advocate for smart, measured growth that does not overburden our infrastructure or tax base; exercising an independent voice—I will be an independent voice and advocate for greater openness, transparency and public input; protecting our core values whenever they are challenged.

What are the top three priorities
you would focus on if elected,
and how would you address them?

Symowicz: My immediate goals are maintaining the budget with responsible spending, completing the Village Employee Manual, encouraging resident participation by creating committees which could also aid in the budget, and opening communication lines for residents and village staff with better use of the village website.

Grabarek: The most pressing of issues is how we can successfully manage the operation of the village with decreasing revenues and increasing expenses. The police have unionized and we will be faced with increasing salary demands. The cost of fuel is rising. Salt is getting more expensive. Our squad cars are aging as are our public works vehicles. Our public works folks haven’t had any raises in the past three years. Many of our streets will require substantial repair. Until the economy picks up; until our excess housing stock is sold; I see very slow growth in our revenues.
The number-one issue for this campaign, therefore, is insuring that we maintain our basic services for our residents at a consistent level given our reduced revenues.
We can discuss the Shodeen concept plan/Anderson Road Bridge conundrum ad nauseum and will later address this issue in question eight, but let’s first look back and then look 10, 15 or 20 years down the road at our vision for the village.
The continuing slack in construction gives us the time and opportunity to look back on and evaluate our prior development and, perhaps, amend our vision for future development: what should we change—what should we support—what areas did we ignore while the boom was going that we should look at now?
This period of slow growth also has given us time to review our assets—not only those within our village borders, but those outside our borders—to help form this vision. Let’s look at our available assets: at our center we have an attractive old town business core, a magnificent library, our Metra station; on our north border, Jewel/Osco and Walgreens; to our west, ready access to a magnificent university; to the south, an excellent and growing community college; to the east, regional medical facilities matched by few other areas in Illinois and, of course, Fermi Laboratory. We are contiguous to 1,080 acres of open and recreational Forest Preserve land. And, all around us, we are graced with some of the richest soil in the world. After about 20 years, however, and given our development patterns over those years, it is definitely time to review and, perhaps, amend our vision for the village as expressed through our comprehensive plan.
Now is the time to work together; to brainstorm; to think outside the proverbial box on such projects large and small. What we need now is to exercise our collective imagination.
We should continue in our efforts to preserve our cultural heritage.
The sense of community and place of any city, town or village is built upon the work of those that preceded us. It is that history that forms the verbal and visual mythology of any special place. It is found in the names of the roads and streets, on the tombstones of the local cemeteries, in the architecture of the older homes and buildings in the historic section of town, and in the stories of our older citizens down at the local cafe or tavern. It is preserved through our institutions, whether it is the old class photos and athletic trophies in the main hallway of the high school, the display cases at the library, the dusty collections of a defunct historical society or the township burial records.
While Elburn will never return to that quaint little farm town on the prairies of 30 years ago, through our cooperative efforts with the townships, with the library, with our old-timers, with our other keepers of the records, we have begun assembling, cataloging and digitizing old photographs, burial records, and many other historical documents. Eventually, a digital record of our unique history will be available to everyone.
In order to allow our interested residents to participate in this effort and because of the large volume of records that need be reviewed, we should create a historical records committee.

Gualdoni: My top three priorities will be to make sure that the village remains fiscally responsible and that all projects are done in an efficient and cost-effective manner. I would also like to work on our downtown redevelopment plans to see if we could come up with a realistic plan such as new lighting, parking and sidewalks. I think that these updates would bring new businesses and consumers back to Elburn’s downtown, making it a destination point. I would also like to see the employee manual completed and put in the hands of the employee’s.

Hastert: My top priority is fiscal responsibility—a balanced budget produces smaller government, less spending and lower taxes. At a time when the village cannot rely on ever-increasing property tax revenues or for full and prompt payment of the village’s share of state-collected tax revenue, it is important that the village budget reflect this near-zero-growth reality and make sure that the village is able to continue to provide the essential government functions at the municipal level—e.g., keeping our streets and community safe and clean.
I appreciate the efforts that Elburn officials have recently made to get the village’s fiscal house in order, and, if elected, I will advocate for a continuation of this kind of fiscal discipline. I would also advocate that the village evaluate and prioritize the village’s known capital improvement requirements in order to ensure that, in the face of stagnant tax receipts, the village can continue to provide essential government services without having to raise taxes.
Secondly, as the economy rebounds, Elburn will be faced with increasing pressure to approve developments in the face of uncertainly that there will be sufficient demand to support those developments. Therefore, Elburn must balance responsible economic growth against the risks associated with that growth so that developments do not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base. To that end, I would advocate that the village convene a committee of village officials, members of the public and business interests to evaluate development proposals to ensure that they would not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base.
Finally, I believe it is important to protect Elburn’s family-oriented nature. Therefore, I will fight to protect our core values whenever they are challenged.

What prompted you
to seek this position?

Symowicz: I am a lifelong member of the area and have been an Elburn resident for almost 11 years. I enjoy being involved within the community and have a strong desire to see the village prosper. As a former village of Elburn employee for over eight years (until a reduction in force), I will bring a different perspective and insight to the board.

Grabarek: I was taught that if we have been given much we must give back by helping others. As a lawyer I have been given much, perhaps not necessarily in money, but in skills. I have the desire, the experience, the skills and the time to devote to the position. I have deeply enjoyed my past service as trustee and, at the same time, humbled by the honor that our residents have granted me by their votes.
As a trustee and a lawyer, I have been able to more intensely participate in large and small cooperative projects and partnerships with various governmental and non-governmental entities that have been beneficial for our village and in which I could not have were I not an elected official. I am running for re-election, as there are a number of projects yet started or completed and that I want to work on.

Gualdoni: I am seeking this position because in the past 12 years, I have seen Elburn change in many ways. I feel that my years of working as a village employee will help the board in planning for the future.

Hastert: I am running for trustee so I can work to ensure Elburn remains a great place to live, raise a family and run a business. Like many Elburn citizens, my wife, Heidi, and I chose to make Elburn our home because of its proximity to regional assets like major metropolitan areas, employers and transportation infrastructure. Perhaps more importantly, Elburn provides us the opportunity to raise our children in a community with the same small-town feel we enjoyed while growing up.

How do you plan
to achieve your goals?
Symowicz: Through honesty, accountability and education. As a team player, I look forward to working with the board and staff on addressing issues within the village.

Grabarek: Though it sounds silly to even mention it, but I promise to continue to thoroughly read our weekly board packets. In my experience, there have been a number of trustees who do not pick up their packets until shortly before the meetings or read them beforehand on the internet and, consequently, attend the meeting nearly completely uninformed. Also, I promise to remain open to inquiries and criticisms of our residents.

Gualdoni: I plan to achieve my goals with good communication with staff, residents and my fellow board members. I believe that the board and staff need to work together as a team to come up with new inventive ideas in order to promote Elburn as great place to work, live and raise a family.

Hastert: If elected I will: advocate for continued fiscal discipline in the village’s budget; advocate that the village post the budget prominently on the village’s website for public review and comment; advocate that the village post the Elburn Station Development Concept Plan prominently on the village website for public review and comment; advocate that the village convene a committee of village officials, members of the public and business interests to evaluate the Elburn Station Development Concept Plan to ensure that it will not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base; advocate that the village convene a committee of village officials, members of the public and business interests to evaluate and improve the public review and comment process for future stages of the development at Elburn Station; and advocate that the village evaluate and prioritize the village’s known capital improvement requirements in order to ensure that, in the face of stagnant tax receipts, the village can continue to provide essential government services without having to raise taxes.

Why are you the best candidate
for this position?
Symowicz: I have hands-on experience working in three of the village’s departments. I was also a past president of Elburn Countryside Condo Association, which during my term remained under budget and in good standings. I am committed through hard work, creativity and dedication to helping Elburn succeed.

Grabarek: As I stated in question 3, I have the desire, the experience, the skills and the time to devote to the position. I know experience matters. As the sole incumbent, I have the greatest historical perspective on the operation and development of the village. All the other candidates have never sat in one of the trustees’ seats, nor do any of the other current sitting trustees have any intense experience beyond their current two years on the board. I have 18 intense and continuous years between my time on the Planning Commission and on the board.

Gualdoni: I believe that I am the best candidate for the position because of my vast experience with the village of Elburn part-time for the past 12 years and my full-time experience with the city of Geneva for over nine years, which has given me a different perspective on how other communities work.
I also believe I am the right candidate for the position, because for the past eight years, I have actively attended the Village Board meetings as a resident that was concerned about the future of the town and was never afraid to speak up when I felt something needed to be pointed out.
I have chosen to raise my family here, so I have a vested interest in this community. I have seen how past boards have handled things and learned from that past history. I feel that I have the knowledge and understanding of how everything works, which will help me if I’m elected.

Hastert: In these uncertain times, the village faces difficult economic challenges and decisions that will determine what kind of community Elburn will become over the next 20 years. The challenges we face require someone with the desire, experience and determination to see Elburn through these uncertain times and guide it to a prosperous future.
I bring a powerful blend of experience as an attorney in private practice and a lifelong involvement with government at all levels that will serve the village well. As important, I am also not afraid to make the tough decisions or to fight for what’s best for Elburn and its taxpayers.

With our current struggling economy, should Elburn change
its short and long-term plans,
and if so, how?
Symowicz: Nothing is ever final with planning. Revenue is no longer as easily attained as in the past and could continue that way into the future for some time, so Elburn has needed to adjust their planning for it. Prioritizing projects will be helpful in the long term planning of the budget.

Grabarek: Let’s get through the next fiscal year or two and conduct a review of our comprehensive plan before we consider any significant changes to our long-range plan, which is to continue to allow development within our “Emerald Necklace” formed by Blackberry Creek on our east, Welch Creek on our west and Virgil ditch on our north.

Gualdoni: I think that now is a good time for the village to review its short-term and long-term plans; to make sure that we follow current market trends and that Elburn retains its small-town charm.

Hastert: Every entity, public and private, benefits from continuously evaluating its current position and plans for the future. While growth is currently stalled, growth will one day return to Elburn.
Indeed, the current development being proposed at Elburn Station would add another 2,281 homes to the village. However, the village must ensure that future growth does not change the quaint nature of the village or overburden our infrastructure or tax base. Therefore, it is important to realign the village’s long-term plan with the realities of today’s slowed growth rate so that it can take advantage of the economic recovery when it occurs while protecting against the potential harm that can accompany growth.

The Kaneland School District
connects Elburn to a number
of neighboring communities.
How should Elburn help foster
a spirit of cooperation among them?
Symowicz: Elburn will continue to honor the agreement with the School District and other communities by paying the school impact fees collected in new housing. When considering new developments, making sure the needs of the school district will be satisfied.

Grabarek: The School District is developing a new impact fee schedule, which will be incorporated into a new intergovernmental agreement between all the municipalities within the School District and will replace the existing one that was slightly modified and extended for one year. This is the principal mechanism to prevent inter-municipal tugs-of-war by prospective developer. A boundary agreement is another possible mechanism between municipalities.

Gualdoni: Elburn and the surrounding communities should continue to honor the agreements they made with the Kaneland School District. Every couple years, the schools meet with the villages and negotiate impact fees. I think this should continue.

Hastert: Frequently, schools serve as the hub of a community, particularly for those families with young children. The village of Elburn can support Kaneland and help foster a spirit of cooperation by ensuring that Elburn remains a community where people want to live, raise a family and run a business. The better village officials do that, the better off Kaneland will be, because Elburn will attract families interested in their children’s education and the success of the School District. As trustee, I will fight to protect and enhance the qualities that make Elburn attractive to businesses and families alike.

What are your views on the proposed
Elburn Station development?
Symowicz: Positives I see in the most recent approved concept plan is less residential units, more commercial and park/open space, and a pedestrian bridge, making the train station more user-friendly for those north of the tracks. I still have questions regarding the impact on the School District, the need for high housing density, the capability of the treatment plant to handle more residents, the street connections to existing Elburn, and where the infrastructure will go and who will be paying for it? I understand this is a 20-year build-out plan and things will change along the way, but I would like assurance this isn’t going to be another project left half-way completed with the village left to fund the finish.

Grabarek: Returning to the Shodeen concept plan, with the deletion of the commercial development north of Route 38 at Anderson Road, the project is not very appealing, as the proposed density is very high at almost 2,300 units on 506 acres, and not much commercial space is proposed for that density.
In a more perfect political world (where we and the county are not being held apparent hostage by the spectra of losing $18,000,000 in funding for the bridge because Shodeen holds 85 percent of the needed right of way and apparently won’t talk until we, Elburn, give Shodeen its demanded density), the county would take the necessary right of way for the Anderson Road bridge by eminent domain and remove Shodeen’s Damoclesean sword of development density hanging over Elburn’s head.
The Anderson Road bridge is as essential for Shodeen’s project as it is for the county and for Elburn. Without the bridge, Shodeen is left with one acre well and septic rural estate lots.

Gualdoni: This project would have received better response from the public if it was made more readily available via Elburn’s website, handouts or some kind of town hall meeting. I also have questions on how it will affect schools, public safety, and current infrastructure. I still would like to see some changes, such as the apartments changed to condos or even reducing the number of them. This project is still a long way from being started and plans will change with the engineering of water, waste water, and rights of way.

Hastert: I support the concept of a transportation-oriented-development at Elburn Station. However, I have some reservations about the current plan. My three main concerns with the concept plan are that: it relies too heavily on multi-family units; whether the development will be appropriately phased in so supply does not outstrip demand; and whether the village’s current infrastructure can support the additional burden, e.g., as I understand it, the village’s waste water treatment facility would need to be expanded and it is unclear where the village would get the funds to pay for such a project.
Without satisfactory answers to those questions, I would not have voted to approve the concept plans. I believe it is essential that Elburn remains a community where people want to live, raise a family and run a business. Therefore, the village must carefully analyze developments (like the one proposed at Elburn Station) so that such developments do not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base.

What should the village do to help
revitalize downtown, as well as expand
its overall economic base?
Symowicz: The village could help with downtown revitalization by improving the streetscape and finding grants to off-set the costs. By replacing the sidewalks and lighting, Elburn could make the area more pleasing for potential new businesses. Building owners can take advantage of grants available to help keep their buildings visually appealing as well for customers and businesses alike. Future proposed developments must encourage commercial growth to help offset the residential.

Grabarek: Until the economy picks up; until our excess housing stock is sold; I see very slow growth in our revenues. It is difficult to attract new business into the village when so many store fronts are vacant. As I stated in response to priority no. 2, now is the time to work together to brainstorm; to think outside the proverbial box. What we need now is imagination. We also need to showcase our destination businesses—Reams, the hobby shop, Schmidt’s, our library. We need a pedestrian/bike bridge over the railroad tracks from the Metra station to our downtown. We need to make our downtown core become everyone’s neighborhood to hang out in.

Gualdoni: Elburn needs to focus on improving lighting, parking and sidewalks in the downtown. This would be a good start to attracting new businesses.
Hastert: The most important thing the village can do to attract business is to act like one itself by living within its means and exercising fiscal discipline. As trustee, I will fight to protect and enhance the qualities that make Elburn attractive to businesses and families alike by: Insisting on fiscal responsibility—Less spending and more saving produces a more responsible government, lower taxes and sustainable economic prosperity; Insisting on smart, measured and well-planned development—I will advocate for smart, measured growth that does not overburden our infrastructure or tax base; Exercising an independent voice—I will be an independent voice and advocate for greater openness, transparency and public input; Protecting our core values whenever they are challenged.

Overall, do you believe the village is
currently on the right track?
Symowicz: I do believe the village is headed in the right direction. There have been some bumps in the road that Elburn has had to adjust for and learn from, but is continuing to positively move forward.

Grabarek: Overall, given the current economic environment, I believe the current board is on the right track—careful management of revenues against our needs and, at the same time, planning for the future. No idea, however, should be rejected out of hand for sounding too silly or dumb. And the Village Board should not be considered the sole holders of development wisdom. I invite ideas from our residents. I believe it is perhaps time to reinstitute our economic development commission.

Gualdoni: I do believe the village is headed in the right direction for the most part. However there is always room for improvement. I think that the board really needs to open lines of communication with the employees to find out what they do and what they need to function in an efficient manner.

Hastert: Yes, however we need to remain vigilant, plan for the best and prepare for the worst. I especially appreciate the efforts that Elburn officials have recently made to get the village’s fiscal house in order, and, if elected, I will advocate for a continuation of this kind of fiscal discipline.

Younger Hastert wants new generation of Republicans to show themselves

Federal budget woes spur 31-year-old Elburn resident to run for Congress
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The name “Hastert” is familiar to most local residents, as the last name of the Congressman who served District 14 for two decades.

It is also the surname of an Elburn resident running for the same Congressional seat in 2010, his son, Ethan.

Ethan Hastert, 31, moved to the village from an apartment in the West Loop. Ethan and his wife, Heidi, said they needed more space after the birth of their son, Jack, and liked Blackberry Creek.

“It wasn’t that Ethan thought one day, ‘Oh, let’s move to Elburn so that I can run for Congress in District 14,’” Heidi said.

Ethan said they chose Elburn because it is close to the Metra station and to his parents, who live in Plano.

“I wanted to be near my folks and near the train,” said Ethan, who commutes to his job as an attorney at Mayer Brown in Chicago.

His other major recent decision—to run for Congress as a Republican—also relates to family, not just his but those throughout the country, whose futures are threatened by financial decisions federal lawmakers have made this year, he said.

Hastert said he didn’t wake up one morning and decide to run for Congress, but that it was a gradual process stimulated by his concern at the beginning of the year by the level of spending coming out of Washington.

“Basically, in January, you saw the national budget go from a little under a trillion dollars to more than three trillion,” Hastert said. “I used to think it was going to fall on me and my generation to pay off the national debt. But now, I look at my 2-1/2-year-old son, and I realize it’s going to be him and his generation paying these debts off.”

Hastert is concerned that rising national debt, which could eventually exceed $20 trillion, will result in inflation that could financially cripple families, he said.

“For you, me, my wife, my son, every single one of us, what that equates to is, every individual in the United States shares $37,000 worth of debt,” Hastert said. “The only way to pay that off is to either grow the economy, and make $20.5 trillion look paltry, or you inflate your way out of it, so that means paying $150 for a loaf of bread.”

Hastert said the nation’s budget should not be excessive when families and businesses do not have that luxury.

“As a nation, we’re currently borrowing 50 cents on every dollar we spend,” he said. “If you or I ran our household or business like that … we wouldn’t be around very long. That’s very simple.”

For example, at his home, he would love to build a deck but said it wouldn’t be prudent spending.

“I would like to have a lot of things here. But right now, that is not my top priority,” he said. “I have other bills I have to pay. I don’t get everything I want. We have to start treating our national budget that way.”

Aside from his concern about the federal debt and inflation, another reason Hastert is running is to ensure a strong Republican Party in the future that includes young lawmakers.

“People are ready for the next generation of Republican leadership to start showing themselves,” Hastert said.

Some might say Hastert’s inexperience could work against him in his pursuit of such an ambitious goal—a U.S. Congressional seat. Hastert said he considered seeking a state lawmaker position but said he likes the people already in place.

“We have a fine complement of state legislators—two Republicans (Kay Hatcher and Chris Lauzen) who are doing a good job fighting the same problems in Springfield that we are having on the national level,” Hastert said. “So I have no interest in running there.”

For most of Hastert’s life, his father was a Congressman, which spurred his interest in national issues.
“It’s not to say that I don’t follow state or local policies or politics; it’s just a matter of my personal interest,” Hastert said.

He was 9 years old when his father became a Congressman in the late 1980s. But he was just 2 when his dad first ran for the Illinois Legislature, where he served as a state representative for six years.

“And my son is 2 now, as I get ready to make a run,” Hastert said.

As an attorney commuting to Chicago, Hastert is away from home for 12 or more hours each day. That work schedule does not give him much time to hunt, fish or cook, which are among his favorite hobbies. Lately, he devotes his spare time to his family and to getting out and meeting voters. He said he might take a leave of absence from work to devote himself to his campaign.

Hastert started reaching out to the public even before his June 5 announcement to the Elburn Herald that he intended to run. He attends a public event nearly every day, whether a parade or a city council meeting, to introduce himself to voters and find out what issues are important to them.

“I like to think that I generally know what concerns people, but I don’t know everything,” Hastert said. “You learn more by listening than talking.”

He said bringing more fiscal responsibility to government will not be the only focus of his platform. However, overspending by lawmakers is a concern that stands out in the conversations he has had with District 14 residents.

“The top thing on everybody’s mind is the economy,” he said.

Local candidate’s background

Ethan Hastert, 31, a Republican candidate in the race for 14th U.S. Congressional District in 2010, lives in Elburn’s Blackberry Creek with his wife, Heidi, and their son, Jack, 2.

Hastert received an undergraduate degree in business administsraton from University of Illinois in Champaign, where he met his spouse, and earned a law degree at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago.

He currently is employed as an attorney at Mayer Brown in Chicago. In his early 20s, he was an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

He is the son of former District 14 Republican Congressman and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who resigned in 2007 and was succeeded by Democratic Rep. Bill Foster, through a special election in 2008.

PHOTO: U.S. Congressional candidate Ethan Hastert enjoys some down time in his backyard with his son, Jack, his wife, Heidi, and their golden retrievers, Atlas and Odin. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Ethan Hastert makes it official: He will run for Congress in 2010

By Martha Quetsch

Ethan Hastert, 31, told the Elburn Herald Friday that he intends to run for his dad’s former congressional seat next year.

“There is hunger for change. I believe 2010 is the year to do it,” Hastert said.

Ethan Hastert, a Republican and the son of former District 14 Congressman and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, had been considering entering the race for the past few months. He said he will issue a press release Monday or Tuesday stating he intends to run.

“In talking to people in the district, I found that many of them share my disappointment in what is coming out of the Democratic Congress including an unprecedented level of spending,” Ethan Hastert said.

Hastert, of Elburn, is an attorney at Mayer Brown in Chicago. When he was in his early 20s, he was an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby.

Current District 14 Rep. Bill Foster’s current two-year term expires in 2010. Foster, a Democrat, won the seat in a special election held in early 2008 after Dennis Hastert resigned the position before end of his term.

Foster has not announced whether he will seek re-election .

“… Congressman Bill Foster is focused on working to solve the problems our families face and get our economy moving again—he is not thinking about elections right now,” Shannon O’Brien, Foster’s Communications Director said Monday.