Neighbors race for village president
Dueringer, Curtis will face off on April 7
by Lynn Meredith
Both candidates running for Maple Park village president have experience on the board. Both were elected to their current positions in 2005â€”Kathleen Curtis to the Village Board and Ross Dueringer as Village President. Now, instead of their usual roles as colleagues in the Village Board room, the two are facing off as political opponents.
Since Kathleen Curtis was elected to the Maple Park Village Board in 2005, she has served on every one of the board’s committees. She attributes her financial, account management and supervisory skills to her success, in particular as Finance Committee chairman.
â€œI want to use my skills to help the community because I care about it,â€ Curtis said.
The biggest issue that Curtis sees facing the village is the aging infrastructure. She said the village needs to find funding to fix and maintain streets and stormwater sewers and to build stopped revenue streams.
â€œWe have to do whatever we can do. We have to sit down at the table and apply for every single thing that Maple Park is eligible for,â€ Curtis said.
Another issue that Curtis said is important is to form a committee to review the resumes and make recommendations for a police chief. She said that the lack of leadership on the Police Committee has delayed the hiring process.
â€œIt would have been easier if we had gone into the interview process right away and not delayed,â€ Curtis said. â€œA police chief would provide leadership and goals.â€
She supports the police referendum because with a minimal budget, the Police Department has had difficulty finding part-time officers and scheduling them. She advocates putting the question to the public and letting them decide.
â€œThe board couldn’t stop arguing about money, and other departments keep suffering. Let’s put it out to the public,â€ Curtis said. â€œIf it doesn’t pass, then live within the budget. It’s not that the department wants too much. We just want to know what are the priorities and how will we spend the money.â€
Curtis takes credit for organizing the department budgets and introducing monthly reporting. By her keeping track of revenue streams and expenditures, the village now has a clean audit, something Curtis said it never had before.
â€œYou get a clean audit when you know where your money is,â€ she said.
If elected village president, Curtis looks forward to an open communication style and working as a team with the other board members. She envisions each trustee taking up a different issue and taking ownership for it.
Curtis said that running against current President Ross Dueringer gives voters options.
â€œI’m willing to give this a try. Ross and I both care about the community. At the end of the day, Ross and I still are going to be neighbors. We may have different styles, but it gives the residents options. And that’s good,â€ Curtis said.
When Ross Dueringer was elected village president in 2005, he took on the responsibilities that went with the job. He’s proud of what he has accomplished, knowing that he did the best he could do. He likens the role of village president to being CEO of a corporation.
â€œIt’s a lot of responsibility, just like a small corporation. We spend a couple of million dollars every year,â€ Dueringer said. â€œI’m proud of what I’ve done. I do my best. It’s the only thing I can do.â€
Dueringer cites a list of 20 specific accomplishments that he has been a part of during his term. At the top of the list are the annexation agreements that resulted in the village getting developer fees and the promise of a school for Maple Park in the future.
â€œI was instrumental in the annexation of land for school property with the promise from the (Kaneland) School Board that if we get enough kids, we’ll have a school here,â€ Dueringer said.
He said the board, under his leadership, annexed two subdivisions with 1,500 new houses, three farm properties and a retail development at Route 38 and County Line Road.
â€œWe got developer fees that would go to the School District, the village, the fire department, the library and police. It was millions of dollars,â€ he said.
Also during these years, the village replaced two miles of sidewalks that were dangerous and broken, replaced the old water main, surfaced streets, hired two public works employees and a new village attorney, purchased a new squad car and truck, and got a newsletter going.
â€œIt takes a team,â€ Dueringer said. â€œSome of it was mine. I might have gotten myself in trouble a little bit with the school, but they did annex in, and they made the commitment of a school.â€
The biggest issue for Maple Park and why Dueringer wants to run again is the flooding that has plagued residents. He wants to find ways to settle the issue and drain the water away from the village.
â€œI hate to see people’s property damaged,â€ he said.
He also said the police referendum is needed, and he hopes it passes.
â€œWhen the board wasn’t able to give the police any more money, I pushed (the referendum) along. We take in $16,000 a year, but we’d like to have more,â€ Dueringer said. â€œ(The officers) are not overpaid. They get $16 an hour to take a bullet.â€
Dueringer also supports hiring a police chief, something that he said has been put on the back burner since the former chief’s contract was not renewed. He sees the necessity of the on-call policy even though it has problems.
â€œI’m not happy with it. There are not a lot of funds to do the on-call. But we’re doing the best we can,â€ Dueringer said.
As he looks forward, Dueringer said he hopes eventually to make progress silencing the train whistles, but until Union Pacific puts in new circuitry, nothing more can be done for now, he said.
Dueringer said that he takes the responsibility of representing the residents seriously.
â€œI have been honest and fair and tried to conduct myself with the idea that the village comes first and foremost. Personal gain is not my forte,â€ Dueringer said. â€œAn important part of our freedom is to vote for who spends your money and represents you. I’ve done my best and that’s the only thing I can do.â€