Arlington Heights library candidates spar over trips

  • Dawn Walter

    Dawn Walter

  • Deborah A. Nelson

    Deborah A. Nelson

Published: 3/6/2009 12:02 AM

Dawn Walter said her opponent for the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board is only in it for the travel perks.

"Earlier in February, she went to Springfield and when trustees asked her what she learned at a meeting, she couldn't come up with a single thing. It was a complete waste of time," said Walter, who's husband, Phillip Walter, is running for Arlington Heights village president. "I just have a feeling that's why she's here - to travel."

Walter's opponent, Deborah A. Nelson denied the claim and said she has the receipts to prove it. Nelson was appointed to the library board in April 2008 after Jim Bertucci resigned in February 2008. She and Walter are running to fill the two years remaining on Bertucci's term. The election is April 7.

According to Nelson, she paid for the Feb. 12 trip to Springfield herself and took the trip with her mother to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The trip came up in conversation at a library board meeting, but not in any kind of official capacity.

"I'm a fan of Abe Lincoln and I paid for the entire thing myself," Nelson said. "I didn't use one penny of library money."

Paula Moore, the library's executive director, backs up Nelson.

Trustees sometimes attend conferences and are paid a per diem that ranges from about $150 to $200 for hotel and food. Typically one trustee attends one conference per year, Moore added.

Walter and her husband have four children. She is the vice president of M. Walter Roofing and a part-time instructor at the Arlington Heights Historical Society. If elected, this would be her first political office. A Michigan native, she graduated from Michigan State University.

Nelson attended John Hersey High School before graduating from Lake Forest College. She is a single parent of a 10-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy who has Down syndrome. She has 20 years of experience in a the nonprofit sector and is currently a consultant for libraries and museums from across the United States.

"I grew up at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and I just love it," Nelson said. "The time I've already served on the board has been special to me and I feel I have a lot of give back."

Walter said now that her kids are older, she'd like to give back to her community.

"I think this board is the perfect place to start for me," Walter said. "I've gone to some meetings and I leave feeling so empowered."

Both Nelson and Walter agree with the board's decision this year not to ask for an increase in the tax levy. The board was one of the few local taxing bodies to take back a planned levy increase.

Arlington Heights library trustees are not paid.