Libertyville trustee race pits experience in municipal government against fresh perspectives – Chicago Tribune
First-time candidates for elected office Alejandra Dominguez and Brian Enochs are hoping to make a significant enough impression with voters this spring to earn seats on — and bring new perspectives to — the Libertyville Village Board.
To do so, though, they’ll have to garner more support than a pair of second-term trustees, Pete Garrity and Scott Adams, and Jim Connell, who is running for a full four-year term after being appointed to the board in 2021
Dominguez, a program director at the US Department of Labor, said the time is right to get involved in village decisions now that her daughters are in college.
“ (The community) is something I’ve always been passionate about; just haven’t really had the time to be honest,” Dominguez said. “And so I want to see if I can get a positive change in my community.”
Enochs, a former pharmaceutical executive who now works for health care nonprofit The Joint Commission, said he wants to “carve out a role” in Libertyville, where he said he has lived since 2010.
“First of all, I (want) to maintain the things that have made the village so special to us, but also helping it grow and adapt itself to a rapidly changing country and world,” Enochs said.
Garrity, first elected as a write-in candidate in 2015, said the job of a village trustee takes tons of time.
Libertyville has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in “really good shape,” Garrity said, but he believes steady, experienced hands are best equipped to lead the village into what he worries could be more trying times in the next few years.
“Looming on the horizon, if you listen to majority of economists, we’ve got a recession coming,” Garrity said. “When you roll into those waters, you really need folks that have been through some of this before.”
Adams delivered a similar message to Garrity as to why experience wins when it comes to local decision making.
“Pete and I are the two most senior members of the board, so a lot of reliance comes on us because of the fact that we’ve got the history with what goes on with the board, and what goes on with Libertyville,” Adams said.
Adams formerly chaired Libertyville’s Main Street Organization, a nonprofit focused on preserving the character of and promoting downtown Libertyville.
Connell, who owns his own marketing agency, views himself as having the ideal mix of experience and freshness to connect well with residents and those calling the shots.
“What I can offer as I sit here today is not only a fresh perspective, but also someone who knows the ropes a little bit,” Connell said. “I would submit that I might be able to move things faster through the maze of government than somebody who is fresh, new and doesn’t really have the lay of land on how to move projects forward.”
Connell was appointed to Libertyville Mayor Donna Johnson’s vacated seat once she succeeded Terry Weppler as mayor in 2021. He said he wants to continue to improve Libertyville’s infrastructure, as well as its parks and recreation programming.
He also believes the village could do a better job to, “meet people where they are” on social media and bring them into the governing process.
“You may not like social media as a person, but make no mistake about it, it’s an effective way to communicate, and to communicate quickly and efficiently with the public,” Connell said.
Garrity and Adams support each other, and Garrity said Mayor Johnson encouraged them to run for new terms.
In the coming years, the board will tackle the remainder of a $50 million-plus stormwater master plan to mitigate future flooding, the usual capital expenditures and the possible relocation of the police station, currently a shared space with the community planning department.
Garrity said he works to bridge the gap between the village and community about what projects are in the works. He said he has developed a large group of residents who he can poll about matters of importance.
“I pride myself on being involved in the community and listening to everybody,” he said. “That’s one of the things I really enjoy about the job, getting feedback from residents and finding out what’s going on out there.”
Adams said Libertyville has room to “enhance or attract” some manufacturing and office space for businesses.
Connell said he has the skill set to help the village “get creative” to improve businesses’ online presence and physical appearance.
Dominguez and Enochs both made it clear they believe that village leadership has done a good job overall governing in recent years, but it can improve.
Enochs said that he wants to keep Libertyville’s downtown competitive with other area towns that have seen significant development in recent years, such as Vernon Hills and Mundelein, so that businesses continue to build back after the pandemic.
He said he would like Libertyville to “make a greater commitment” to expanding its “really lovely set of parks, green spaces and public spaces.”
Dominguez wants to go all-in on engaging community members about village affairs to solicit more input, rather than just posting the meetings and agendas on the village website.
“ (Let’s) pull the curtain back and see why we do what we do, why we spend the money we spend, why we decide some streets get improved over others and engage the community as well,” she said.
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