It’s taken some time for Lakewood Village President-Elect Paul Serwatka to put his thoughts together, but here they are:
My apologies for the belated report. We buried my nephew, Jacob, on election day which has definitely taken some wind out of my sails, and I went through the entire ordeal with a flu/fever and doing so has taken it’s toll on my health as well. I am still not fully recovered.
I’m sure, by now, everyone is well aware that Lakewood residents were quite successful in PHASE II of our effort – the April 4th election of The entire “Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Team”.
So successful, in fact, that we once again, broke at least one historical record, again setting what most would call “a mandate” on a few critical issues in Lakewood Government.
Where we began…
In the 2015 election, I ran as a write-in candidate to be our village trustee, promising 3 things:
1. I promised to “fight”, to put an end to more than a decade of consecutive, annual Lakewood property tax hikes.
2. I promised to “fight” to put an end to the $66 Million Dollar TIF District, as well as the Sportsplex.
3. I promised to bring about an entirely new level of truth, transparency and accountability within our village board.
As I continued in my campaign to become our trustee, in 2015, I spoke with many hundreds of residents and, again and again, I was told and asked the same thing:
“You’ll be but 1 against 6 on the village board. You will lose every vote. How will you stop or change anything?”
And, again and again, I replied: “Voting right” is just the beginning of achieving better government”… I will fight! Not just “vote right,” but fight!”
I promised I would continue to call out, and shed light on, wasteful spending and wrongdoing.
I pledged to “guilt fellow board members into doing “the right thing”… to “shame them into doing the right thing” if need be… and if all else failed, I promised to lead an effort to replace them in the next election!
Not a very “politically correct” or “warm and fuzzy” statement, I know… But, it’s what I said I would do… (and as we have subsequently come to learn, it’s what was necessary!)
Lakewood residents responded, back then, by setting a, then, all time historical record – not just by writing in my name and electing me as trustee – but by doing so in record numbers – achieving the highest vote count (by a substantial margin) for any elected official in our village history!
The 2015 election was, by all rights, a mandate of it’s own!
Or, at least it should have been…
Following that historical “mandate” 2015 election, the Northwest Herald wrote a very telling article entitled:
“Write-In Candidate’s Win Doesn’t Change Thinking on Lakewood Board”
The gist of this story was summed up in one key sentence in the article:
“But the upset by a write-in candidate doesn’t have any of the trustees the Northwest Herald spoke with changing their minds on these major issues…”
The reporter went on to quote trustees Ken Santowski, Gene Furey and others, essentially stating that they had no intention of changing their way of governing, or decision making, despite the historical upset election. They intended to “ignore the mandate”.
And, sadly, as the past two-years have proven, they did exactly that!
[You can read the article here:
2017 – A New “Mandate”
Over the course of the last two years, more and more residents came together, more and more stayed informed, read and shared my Newsletters and became engaged when necessary.
Together, we began to have our voices heard and began to FORCE some much needed change within our village government.
Together, we were able to thwart plans to do away with night-time police patrol in Lakewood and were able to keep our police on patrol at night…
Together, we caused the return of a secret patronage bonus to our former village manager…
Together, we saw the resignation of our former village manager…
Together, we overcame contempt, and passed our historical Lakewood Property Tax Referendum, giving Lakewood residents a first-ever voice in our property tax levy…
And, most recently, this April 4th, we together, overwhelmingly took back our village government in yet another historical record setting fashion!
Together, we set a new mandate!
The 2017 Final Tally
In our village president race, the final vote count was as follow:
This vote total of 588, surpassed our 2015 historical record of 544. And, while I don’t know that it sets any records, I do know that achieving 70% of the vote in any contested race, is pretty much unheard of.
(I feel compelled to clarify here, that this is not me boasting of “my” accomplishment… This is simply me saying “Look what can be accomplished when we come together, stay informed and engage when needed!”
This is also me pointing out to all who may be reading: “Lakewood is awake! Lakewood is engaged! And, Lakewood is taking back the reigns of our government, effective immediately!”
In our village trustee race, the final vote count was as follows:
|Phil Stephan||544 Votes||22.9% of total votes|
|Richard Ritchie||539 votes||22.7% of total votes|
|Amy Fues Odom||595 votes||25.1% of total votes|
|Gene Furey||349 votes||14.7% of total votes|
|John Schrauf||347 votes||14.6% of total votes|
Amy’s vote count of 595 votes sets the all time record for our village – and when looking at the total vote percentages by average of “teams” vs. individuals, The Lakewood Tax Fighter Trustee Team received 62% of the vote vs. 38% going to the “Business as Usual” Team of Gene Furey & John Schrauf.
Our team will take office and assume our new positions in May. As with any new trustee or president, there will be a degree of a learning curve, but we will work together in the spirit of “good and honest government,” ever mindful of the promises we made, and we will work diligently to get the job done.
As many have heard me say again and again, none on this team pretend to have all the answers, but rather we acknowledge that we do not, understanding that we will often need to seek out reliable, trustworthy information, which in my experience is a key component to good government.
We will not pretend to know more (or better) than the 4000 residents who have entrusted us oversee our village government.
And, as our next Village President, I will be ever mindful that I am here to serve the residents (not to be served), to enrich the taxpayers and to empower families – and I will be ever vigilant in my efforts with other elected officials, developers, and others – that the Lakewood residents & taxpayers will be protected – and governed responsibly and advantageously – with the best interests of ALL residents of Lakewood being first and foremost.
Thank you for your trust,
Paul D. Serwatka