Sunday, February 25, 2024

Canadian National railway overpass, other infrastructure work top of mind as 4 seek 3 seats on Barrington Village Board in April 4 election

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With three seats up for election on the Barrington Village Board next Tuesday, two newcomers are in the running as two incumbents seek another term.

Brian Prigge and Margot Dallstream have made their first foray into local government facing incumbents Jason Lohmeyer and Kate Duncan in the April 4 election.

Approval of home rule status for Barrington — by way of a referendum on the ballot in the November gubernatorial election — prompted both Prigge and Dallstream to pursue campaigns for board seats, they said.

Lohmeyer and Duncan say they want to continue the work they have started as village trustees, using their professional expertise to guide Village Board decisions.

Construction of the new underpass at the Canadian National railroad tracks, on Route 14/Northwest Highway, along with plans to update the village’s water and wastewater treatment facilities are the top issues facing candidates in the next four years, they’ve said.

Prigge, 34, a chief technology officer at an independent health care company, is running for village trustee while his wife, Lindsay Prigge, is in the contested race for the library board. The couple has three young children and moved to the village in 2019.

“With home rule comes with a lot of great revenue opportunities, legislative opportunities, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility,” Brian Prigge said. “Barrington is already not the cheapest suburb to live in. It could get a lot more expensive if home rule is not used judiciously.”

In addition to trying to keep Barrington affordable, as a village trustee, he and other candidates said they want to deal with the village’s aging, critical infrastructure. Unlike some surrounding communities, Barrington has its own well system and wastewater treatment plant. However, both are over 50 years old.

Prigge believes his professional background could assist with bringing self-service technology to the village, providing a real benefit to the community, particularly when paying water bills. He and Dallstream want to see a bigger investment in the downtown area, particularly introducing new events and activities that would energize the downtown area, the candidates said.

Dallstream said she would like to see more activities for kids and teens and more, mid-priced restaurants for family dining.

Dallstream, 58, said with home rule in Barrington, “it made me very concerned who was on the board.”

“The scope of authority of home rule is quite large. I wanted to be involved in that process. I voted in favor of it, with caution. I like the idea of self- governance,” she explained.

She said the board has discussed a crime-free housing ordinance — since home rule was approved — which would impact her since she said about 40% of her block includes rental property and there have been some crime situations in her neighborhood.

She’s also hoping the new home rule sales tax will speed up infrastructure improvements such as roads, sidewalks, parking areas and the wastewater treatment plant.

Dallstream, a married mother of three daughters and active community volunteer, said she is supported by the Suburban Action PAC, a group formed in 2020 by parents in the Barrington community who felt they were not being heard at school board meetings, particularly around keeping schools closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine requirements.

With one daughter now attending Barrington High School, Dallstream said she spoke out about vaccine mandates and sharing data.

The PAC, she said, has raised $50,000 to support three candidates in each of the school and library board races, along with her campaign for Village Board.

“Our common thread is fiscal responsibility and listening to the constituents and honoring those voices and making those decisions on what the community wants,” she said.

Jason Lohmeyer, 52, has served as village trustee for eight years and believes his professional experience as a chief financial officer at a mid-size health care company is knowledge important on the board. As a former auditor with an accounting and finance focus, he said he scrutinizes village finances to make sure Barrington stays within its means.

“I’ve done what I’ve said I’d do,” said Lohmeyer. ”That’s the strongest indicator of how I will operate.”

Before serving on the Village Board, Lohmeyer also served on the Fire Pension Board. Lohmeyer, who is married with a daughter in middle school, lives in Jewel Park, which is a neighborhood impacted by the new CN underpass. He said six houses in his area have been taken down for the project.

“It’s for the greater good of the community, even if it’s not the best for my neighborhood,” Lohmeyer said.

He explained another significant project the board has been analyzing is the wastewater treatment plant that is over 50 years old. The board is reviewing costs, funding and how to best address the situation.

“The unfortunate thing about [the] water treatment plant, people don’t see it and it’s harder for people to appreciate the need to address those things unless they’ve had a negative impact,” he said. “Being a good steward, we’re looking at grants and identifying specific, needed projects.”

Other projects include roads and improving one of the village’s wells and water quality by 2024.

“The incremental sales tax will drive road improvement projects and help cover the cost of redoing roads,” Lohmeyer said.

He’s worked closely with incumbent Trustee Kate Duncan, who has lived in Barrington for 18 years with her husband and two young children. Duncan has been an active community volunteer and previously served on the village’s Plan Commission. Professionally, she is a land use and zoning attorney a Chicago firm.

“I do have the professional experience to serve my community,” said Duncan, 44. “I’m excited to continue our work.”

She said the underpass project was critical, particularly if something happened on the line and it was blocked, the village would have zero access for emergency responder or other public safety vehicles.

Duncan said the new home rule status for the village gives board members “other tools in their toolbox” to implement new village initiatives, including the new sales tax to support infrastructure.

“It’s critical we keep up with our aging infrastructure,” she said, adding that the board is keeping an eye on maintaining such facilities as the water and wastewater plants. Unlike other area towns, she believes the village has a valuable resource in its wells so it does not need to be dependent on Lake Michigan water.

She spoke of plans for the development of the golden triangle, a mixed-use development planned near the Jewel-Osco grocery store in the downtown area, which she believes will change the vibrancy of that area of town. Those redevelopment plans, she said, are expected to come before the board in April.

“I love my community and I am for Barrington,” Duncan said. “I want to make it a great place to live and to take care of our town for generations to come.”

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is a freelancer.

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