Gurnee mayoral race pits board veteran against newcomer
With Mayor Kristina Kovarik not pursuing a fifth term, Gurnee voters this spring will choose between two attorneys with previous public service experience for the village's top elected office.
Tom Hood, whose decades of experience in village government include eight years as a trustee, and David Weinstein, a Woodland Elementary District 50 school board member, are seeking to succeed Kovarik in the April 6 election.
Hood enters the race with the village's establishment behind him. A lawyer for 35 years who has served on the village board since 2012, Hood is endorsed by Kovarik, all current board members, retired Police Chief Kevin Woodside and former Lake County Board member Steve Carlson.
In addition to his time as a trustee, Hood spent 20 years as chairman of the village's zoning board. He said he couples his extensive experience as a village leader with his passion for Gurnee.
"I've lived here, I grew up here, I work here, I raised my family here and I'm passionate about how things run here," Hood said. "It's important for me to be involved and make sure things work out well. I'm not willing to stand on the sideline and hope it works out."
Weinstein, an attorney for 30 years and District 50 board member since 2019, said if elected mayor he would do everything in his power to eliminate ethylene oxide from village air.
Ethylene oxide, a colorless cancer-causing gas often referred to as ETO, has been used by Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee to clean equipment and plastic devices that cannot be sterilized by steam. Vantage makes household items, such as soap and shampoo.
Much has been done to address ETO emissions since they were brought to light by a 2018 EPA report. The village was involved with the multiagency effort to monitor emissions near Vantage, and state lawmakers passed legislation to track and restrict the amount companies can release.
"I intend to do everything I can to ensure businesses aren't poisoning your kids and yourself," Weinstein said.
Hood chairs the village board's new environmental sustainability committee and said he will be proactive on ETO and other environmental issues. He said he knows many in the village, such as members of the community group Stop ETO, are frustrated that more hasn't been done.
The village has done a good job, but there is always room for improvement, he added.
"The village doesn't oversee or regulate air quality issues, but we have a voice and will work to see the emissions are strongly regulated or alleviated," Hood said. "Who wants ETO in town? No one wants ETO. I want to be able to work with Stop ETO. We've been at odds at times, and that's been painful to see."
Weinstein said he has received the endorsement of state Rep. Joyce Mason, a Gurnee Democrat who previously served on the District 50 board. Mason hosted a signature drive for Weinstein to help get him on the ballot.
Weinstein is married to Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Erin Cartwright-Weinstein, a Democrat who was reelected in November. He joked that he expects her endorsement too.
Weinstein is not running to keep his seat on the District 50 board, but he said he's loved his time there.
"It was a hard time with the pandemic and closing schools, and we had to make serious decisions," he said. "I learned a lot and met wonderful people. I think I can help more people as town president."