Part III – In Kane County, Hampshire & “Preserve Virgil” Candidates Almost Oust Supporters of 1,500 Development in 100 Home Village

In northwestern Kane County lies Hampshire, right next to a Tollway exit.

Its village fathers decided to push a new subdivision annexation through before the election. Citizen challengers, including new Village President Jeffrey Magnussen, beat Village Trustee William Swalwell 55%-45% with his slate, giving them control of the village board.

South of there in western Kane County lies tiny Virgil.

The village was formed in the early 1990’s in response to the Kane County Board’s talking about putting a landfill in Virgil Township.

In April’s election, village residents overwhelmingly passed an advisory referendum opposing annexation of Founder’s Creek, a huge 1,500-acre home development proposing 2,700 new homes. The margin was 69% to 31%.

The referendum was stimulated by a proposal from the family of former Mayor Mike Sauber. In November 2003, seven months into his most recent term, the younger Sauber announced that he might have a conflict of interest and resigned.

The conflict of interest turned out to be his family’s desire to sell 1,500 acres to a developer and annex it into Virgil. Village Trustee Mark Marion, was appointed to replace him and ran unopposed.

A group called “Preserve Virgil” was formed to fight the addition of 2,700 homes to the 100-household village.

“Preserve Virgil” captured three of the four trustee seats up for election, one with a write-in campaign. Which direction the village board will take is an open question.

“The village board has seen by the results of this election that they have wasted 15 months of working towards something that the residents never wanted,” explained former village clerk Debbie Washburn. “In previous years, village residents were welcomed and encouraged to come to meetings and ask questions, but, lately, especially in the past year, residents attending board meetings have been rudely reprimanded for asking questions during the Founder’s Creek discussions.”

Victorious challengers include Pat Probst, who won a write-in campaign by 9 votes for a two-year term, plus four-year term winners Robert J. Neisendorf and James Giannini. Challenger Jamie LeBlanc lost to incumbent Colette L. Petit by one vote for another four-year term.

The challengers had mistakenly filed four candidates for the three four-year terms and none for the two-year vacancy. They originally had decided to support Thomas C. Whitney, instead of LeBlanc. Unfortunately, Whitney died 2 days before the election. In one day’s campaigning in the 100-home village, supporters were told to vote for LeBlanc, in place of Whitney. They were 2 votes short vote of pulling it off.

Part IV will look at reactions in Will County to rampant growth.

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