Letter: In support of Michels, Heineman and Bohler

By on March 26, 2009

I am writing in support of Sean Michels for re-election as President of the Village of Sugar Grove, and also in support of Mary Heineman (as a write-in candidate) and Bob Bohler for re-election to the trustee positions that they presently hold.

I have never written a letter like this, or taken any active part in assisting anyone seeking an elective office. I have simply voted for the candidates of my choice, and let things go at that. But things are substantially different for me with regard to our upcoming municipal election here in Sugar Grove. In addition to writing this letter, I find myself going door-to-door for these three fine people, talking to my neighbors and friends and others in the community, passing out literature, playing yard signs and more.

All elections are important, of course, but our Sugar Grove election this year is particularly so. Our current economic recssion has halted growth in much of our country, Sugar Grove included. We know this will eventually pass, and when it does, the growth will begin again. We need to make sure that wise, sensible people with solid, genuine connections and concern for our town will be guiding us at that time. This election is also unusually important because we have a contest for the office of President of our community. The winner will have tremendous influence over the future of Sugar Grove; we must pick the best person for this important position.

My wife and I have lived in this wonderful village for the past 19 years. We have raised our four sons here, putting them through the Kaneland schools, local scouting and sports activities, etc. I’ve been privileged to have had many opportunities to serve as a scout leader and a soccer and baseball coach over the years. In addition, since June 2003, I have had an office in the village for my small business. My father was a career Army officer, and consequently I moved every year or two while growing up, attending 10 different schools by the time I graduated from high school. For most of my life, I have dearly wished for a “hometown.” I have one now, and perhaps because of my past, I love and appreciate and care about this place more than I can adequately express.

It is because of my love for this community, and the special importance of this particular election—and one other factor—that I have suddenly changed from a political couch potato who merely votes, into a determined, independent advocate for those candidates who I believe will best serve us in the future.

The additional factor that got me up off the couch and out into the streets is the fact that I know both Sean Michels and his opponent fairly well—particularly with regard to those factors that are most relevant and important to the office of President of our village. By any measure you might choose—a true connection with our town and a genuine concern for its future; the necessary experience and ability; an appropriate vision for development; personal integrity and character—Sean Michels is clearly and substantially the superior candidate.

Sean Michels is a good and decent man, with long-standing, deep and true connections with Sugar Grove. He has lived in the Kaneland area since 1969, attending Kaneland schools from which he graduated in 1981. He attended Waubonsee Community College and was recently recognized by that institution as one of its 40 top graduates. He has resided in Sugar Grove with his wife and four children (who attend our Kaneland schools) for the past 19 years, and he has absolutely no intention of going anywhere else after this election has concluded, win or lose. He has served as president of our village for the past nine years, during which time Sugar Grove has received numerous awards and recognitions.

Our village is in excellent condition and remains a truly great place to live. Sean loves this town as much as I do, and his desire to continue as our President is based upon his genuine concern for its welfare. I have never doubted for an instant his good intentions or his feelings of caring for our community. Sugar Grove is as much a part of him as it is of any other person.

I got to know Sean’s opponent during his recent tenure as the Director of the Sugar Grove Economic Development Corporation while that agency was located in the same building as my business. His office was right across the hall from mine. I saw him several times a week for the past several years, and I have always had a very cordial relationship with him. As generally happens in such situations, we had many conversations over the years about a lot of different issues. Also, I have numerous clients and friends who have had dealings of various sorts with him over the years. I know the man—and I know about the man—quite well.

All of us who live in Sugar Grove can agree that our recent growth has been concentrated in residential development, and that we now need to work on balancing that with other appropriate and desirable development. But the approach of Sean’s opponent (and the trustee candidates that support him and are critical of our present leaders) would be to lower the impact fees and open space requirements that we have worked so hard to put in place at the present, appropriate levels; say “Come on down” to every residential developer within 500 miles; and grow the population of this nice, still relatively small and quiet community as soon as possible in order to attract commercial and retail businesses. On numerous occasions in recent years, I’ve heard Sean’s opponent say, “To get more businesses, we need more rooftops.”

We don’t need more rooftops. We’ve got plenty for now. And once the economy picks up, Settler’s Ridge alone will increase the size of the village all that we need for the near term.

What we really need are experienced, intelligent people like Sean Michels, Bob Bohler and Mary Heineman, who have common sense and a genuine concern for, and connection with, our village, to consider very carefully all future proposed development in our area. We should not—we must not—rush to grow as fast as possible. Growth of all kinds is on its way; we will get to that, whether we want it or not. What we must do while this is occurring is to take charge of this growth and control it in a manner that preserves the essence of this great village that has grown so much in recent years, precisely because folks recognize what a desirable place this is to live.

To those of you who have some dissatisfaction with Sean Michels or Bob Bohler or Mary Heineman, let me say this—I also have not agreed with everything that has taken place in our village in recent years. But we must keep in mind that elected officials attempting to do right by their constituents make easy targets for our criticism. Human nature being what it is, it’s a simple matter for us to complain that our government is not doing what it should, or not doing things quickly enough, or in what we feel is the appropriate manner.

It is an entirely different matter, however, were we to be the ones on the inside trying to accomplish our desired goals. I’m sure that President Obama feels acutely aware of this facet of life right about now. Elections, of course, are not about choosing the perfect candidate. That candidate simply doesn’t exist. Rather, elections are about choosing the best of those folks who step forward to seek office, and in our current circumstances, Sean and Bob and Mary are the best.

We find ourselves at a critical juncture in the history of this town. How are we going to move forward once things start moving again—rampant growth for growth’s sake—or careful, balanced, controlled development in order to keep this village as much as possible the nice place that attracted all of us in the first place? We should keep in mind the old saying that sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. If we take a step back and look at the “forest” that is the village of Sugar Grove—not getting caught up in the trees, we see that Sugar Grove remains truly a great place to live and work and raise our families, and a large part of the credit for that must go to Sean Michels, Bob Bohler and Mary Heineman. Let’s keep these good people in office so that we can say the same thing about Sugar Grove several years down the line.

Bill Durrenberger
Sugar Grove