In one phase of an ever-repeating cycle, municipal officials “give away the store” to one or more developers. Citizens become enraged at their inability to influence the outcome perpetrated by the incumbents. Then, they run for office, often taking out the offending village officials. Eventually, those who have the big bucks at stake usually outwait the citizen-activists and re-take control.
Perhaps the most startling loss in the collar counties was the write-in upset of Richmond’s Mayor Kevin Brusek. Richmond is a town at the Wisconsin border in northeastern McHenry County.
Two years ago, a faction fed up with the one-sided deal that had been cut with a developer took control of the village board.
Their efforts to improve the situation resulted in three SLAPP suits from the developer against the new village officials. All three suits were dismissed, but it cost newly elected village trustees Dan Deters and Chuck Schultz tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. (SLAPP is short for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.)
This year, the mayoral petitions of Schultz, the group’s candidate to knock off village president Brusek, were challenged and Schultz took himself off the ballot. Hence, the need for the write-in candidacy of Lauri Olson. The citizen-activist beat incumbent Mayor Brusek 54%-45%. The two Brusek trustee candidates also went down, giving the reformers 5 of 6 village board votes.
In Part II, read about what happened in Woodstock.