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Ritter says he'll set new course as Carpentersville president
By Larissa Chinwah | Daily Herald Staff

Carpentersville president-elect Ed Ritter talks with the Daily Herald about his experience and goals in his new post.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

Carpentersville president-elect Ed Ritter says that with a cooperative spirit Carpentersville could be a model community.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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Published: 4/19/2009 12:05 AM

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Now that the dust has settled in the vote for Carpentersville village president, we sat down with Ed Ritter, the candidate who earned 48 percent of the vote in a three-man race, for a wide-ranging interview.

The first-term trustee had been at loggerheads with Village President Bill Sarto throughout most of their 4 years on the board, and he beat him by a 3-1 ratio.

Here is a recap of our discussion, edited for length.

Q. How long have you lived in Carpentersville?

A. For 15 years. I lived in Indiana and moved around from principal positions for 25 years before that.

Q. How did you become involved in politics?

A. I wanted to serve the community and I had seen an advertisement in the paper saying they needed members for the planning commission. I guess I saw some things in Carpentersville that I thought could have been better and I decided that it was time to get involved and see if I could be a part of the solution instead of problem.

Q. Why did you make the jump to the village board?

A. I was asked by several people who said I was doing a really good job on planning and zoning. They said we need more leadership in the village, and asked if I would like to join them on a slate of candidates.

Q. What then convinced you to run for village president?

A. We definitely needed a different leadership style and I had been urged by a number of people based on my work as trustee to run for the position.

Q. You have talked a lot about how your leadership style will differ from your predecessor, Bill Sarto's. Can you explain?

A. I believe every decision is new and you start with a clean slate. What has happened is done and that can't color your decisions in the future. That will be the top of the list. Second would be to be much more inclusive of the trustees. There were a lot of issues and decisions that we never heard about or never knew about. It was very frustrating. I am still learning about things that Bill made decisions on that we never knew about. Negotiations that were going on that none of us knew about. For example, Bill is the liquor commissioner and we never got any information about anything that happened through his work as liquor commissioner. We were always in the dark about it. We never knew if there were problems with liquor licenses or when licenses were granted. We would just heard about it after the fact on our own. There were just too many things that the board was not involved in and that was one of the key reasons that the board had a hard time working with Bill, because Bill worked independently.

Q. What would you like to change or add in terms of village government?

A. I would like to examine the committee system and look at how people were put on committees and commissions. It shouldn't be a political football to be named a citizen on a committee; there was too much of that. I also think we need to somehow restructure an ordinance committee. There had been an ordinance committee a number of years ago and it was disbanded. I want to look into reconstituting that so that we are not legislating up on the dais. Instead, things would be looked over and scrutinized in a committee and then brought forward like most places do legislation. Also I want to start an economic development committee that would be a mix of business, industry and banking people along with village staff and trustees to look at ways we can streamline the process of starting a business in the village. We would look at some regulations that might be more stringent than they have to be and are maybe preventing us from getting some businesses in the village. And maybe also look at some way to put together a consortium to upgrade our housing stock. We need to upgrade our housing stock in some organized fashion of fixing them up, selling them for just enough to cover expenses and then selling them back to families moving back into the village. We could have a stipulation of some sort. I don't know how it would work but maybe the first call would be to police and fire personnel and teachers or something like that. We need to get some young professionals in there, get some public servants in there. It could be a way for us to get young families back in there and turn Carpentersville back into a bedroom community - get people in there who are looking for a place to start and build a family.

Q. What are three great things people don't know about in Carpentersville?

A. We really have a hard working staff. They are kind of short on numbers but they do a really good job of keeping the village up and responding to emergencies. Our police and fire are first rate. We have some nice parks that are underused because people don't know about them or don't know they are there. Keith Andres park is a really nice place but it doesn't get used enough. It needs some upgrade to make it more people-friendly. I think we have a good mix of new and old. We've got a great Old Town section with old, restored homes and we have a section of really nice executive new homes. But we also have a lot of basic housing stock so we can hit a lot of different kinds of families. And the Fox River - it really is a gem that doesn't get used enough.

Q. How high can village reach?

A. Carpentersville could be a model city. If things start falling into place and we stop fighting, we could become a model city. There are so many things that are possible with the mix of new and old that we have and the parks and river. The only thing that holds us back is ourselves - the elected officials, people who don't agree with the village but only complain instead of making suggestions. We need more people to fire off e-mails about what should be done rather than fire off e-mails about what is wrong. We need more people to get involved with committees and attend board meetings and know what is going on. We just need more people to help their neighbors, to help each other.

Q. What is your position on the Longmeadow Parkway corridor?

A. The way it is being financed right now and the amount of financing makes it kind of unattractive. If we can get it and get it at a reasonable price, I really think it would help the village. It would take traffic out of the center of town and I think allow for commercial development - especially on the east end. it would empty into property that is annexable to Carpentersville. It has to be a spot that is wide open for commercial development. On the other end there will be exits on Route 25 and there is commercial property north and south. In terms of economics it would be good for the village and in terms of traffic flow it would be good for the village. But not the way it is set up now with a $1.50 toll each way. It seems pretty steep and we could create something that wouldn't get used enough. I used to be very supportive of it but my support has dwindled as the plan has developed from something that was paid for by the county to something that gets paid for by toll.

Q. Would you try and work with surrounding villages as a way to spur development in the area?

A. It is hard to predict how that may go. But it would be nice to work with Gilberts and East and West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow. We have a lot in common and we have a large consumer bloc, so it would makes sense for us to be a counterweight to Elgin. With the populations it has got to be maybe 55,000 to 60,000 people. That is a pretty large economic engine. If we can work together on development within those four five towns we could help each other.

Q. How is your relationship with staff and what's your philosophy on micromanaging?

A. I get along and have good cooperation with them. But the village president doesn't have any management responsibilities over the staff. That's why they have the village manager. We as the village board can work through the manager, but we don't work directly with staff. I don't have any desire to be village manager. We need to set the course and steer the ship but we don't have to go down and talk to the men on the job. That's the manager's job.