Hoffman Estates trustee candidates compare priorities

  • From left, Karen Arnet, Michael Gaeta, Karen Mills and Nicholas Waryas are candidates for Hoffman Estates village trustee.

    From left, Karen Arnet, Michael Gaeta, Karen Mills and Nicholas Waryas are candidates for Hoffman Estates village trustee.

Updated 2/27/2017 5:33 PM

Though a unified slate of candidates is running for seats on the Hoffman Estates village board this spring, one independent hopeful is seeking a place among the three open trustee positions.

Trustee candidate Nicholas Waryas believes the village desperately needs at least one unique perspective on its board.


"I'm an independent voice. I do what I want to do," said Waryas, 34.

The other trustee candidates are incumbents Karen Mills, 66, and Michael Gaeta, 79, along with longtime village volunteer Karen Arnet, 51. They're part of a slate with Mayor Bill McLeod and Village Clerk Bev Romanoff, who are uncontested in their re-election bids.

Waryas said term limits of eight years on the village board are part of his campaign platform, which is why Mills' tenure of 25 years is the one he particularly wants to replace.

Mills said term limits already are in the hands of the voters.

"I feel I still have a lot to give," she added.

The three biggest challenges the village faces, which she hopes her experience can help with, are pensions, keeping up with street repairs and finding the best fits for Hoffman Estates' remaining open land, Mills said.

Gaeta said the task of handling government pensions can't be overestimated. Even with one term under his belt, he said he continues to look to Mills' experience as a guide on several issues.

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"She's an asset," he said.

Though he's part of a slate, Gaeta said the perception of unity on the current board can easily be both overestimated and undervalued.

"These past four years have been excellent," he said. "We operate as a team. In (closed) session, we may argue, but it's for the village."

Arnet believes her volunteerism for the village -- including as a member of the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association -- as well as her attendance at village board meetings and coffee with the board sessions, have built up her familiarity with municipal issues.

Though she, like Waryas, claims to bring fresh eyes to the village's business, she also believes there is value in experience on the board.

"I want to learn how to do it better," she said.


Arnet said she does not yet have an opinion on a developer's controversial request for a tax increment financing district to help overcome the challenges of building on a 184-acre site at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72.

Both Mills and Gaeta said they've been moving the process forward only to allow for the chance that a beneficial development may emerge, as unprecedented as such a tax break for a partly residential development may be.

Although critical of McLeod on some other issues, Waryas agrees with the mayor and Trustee Anna Newell in opposing residential TIF districts.

"I'm against it," Waryas said. "I don't believe having a developer come in and request a TIF is kosher."

Waryas also disagrees with the board's decision to block a proposed Goddard School for preschoolers on Barrington Road at the northern end of the village. The proposal was narrowly rejected by the board late last year, which Waryas interprets as a disregard for the open land in that part of Hoffman Estates.

The majority of the board indicated they did not believe the school justified waiving the site's retail-only restriction.

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