'This town was ready for change': Gartner ends Hanson's 12-year tenure as Antioch mayor
After decades of public service, Antioch Mayor Larry Hanson's appeal for one last term to complete some work fell well short Tuesday, and the village will transition to new leadership.
Hanson was denied a fourth term as the top elected official by local attorney Scott Gartner, who entered the race last fall offering a fresh perspective.
With all but the late-arriving mail-in and provisional ballots counted, unofficial totals showed Gartner with 1,301 votes to 745 for Hanson. Stacy Ellis finished third with 321 votes.
"It was very evident this town was ready for a change," Gartner said Wednesday. He'll become the first new mayor in Antioch since Hanson was elected to the post 12 years ago.
"I thought about running the last two terms, but I know Larry and didn't want to run against him," said Gartner, a 20-year resident.
Gartner said he became aware of a "divisiveness" in town and shifted oversight for his business interests to clear the way for a mayoral run.
"We have an incredible opportunity to make Antioch the premier village in northern Lake County," he said to start the campaign. "Our town is more than ready for a fresh start, new look and a change of vision all around."
Hanson, a lifelong resident, also served as a village trustee for 14 years before being elected mayor. He thought this race would be tighter.
"I just think people are maybe frustrated being cooped up a long time," he said Wednesday. "People maybe are looking for a different direction. I don't know."
Hanson has been challenged every election. In this campaign he emphasized a variety of accomplishments that showed "proven leadership produces real results."
But he couldn't overcome internal rifts and a strategic move by village Trustee Mary Dominiak. She announced her candidacy for mayor last August but withdrew in January and threw her support to Gartner.
"I believed it was time for a change," Dominiak said Wednesday. "I realized multiple candidates increased the chance of the incumbent keeping his seat."
Dominiak has two years remaining on her term. She described the decision as bittersweet but, in her view, necessary for village matters to advance more quickly.
"When she dropped out, that was a very big turning point," Gartner agreed. He said residents can expect him to work as hard as mayor as he did during the campaign.
"I like to get things done," he said.
Hanson said he has offered Gartner, a newcomer to political office, assistance in the transition.
"He knows I'm an asset, not a liability," Hanson said. With various projects and initiatives already in place or underway, Hanson described the village "like a turnkey business."
"It's teed up for success, and it's up to him to bring it forward," Hanson said. "It is what it is at this point. I'm proud of everything I've done."