ELECTION 2013: Westmont’s next mayor prepares for smooth transition
WESTMONT — While Ron Gunter hasn’t yet been elected and won’t be sworn in as the new mayor of Westmont for another couple of months, he is already hard at work learning the job.
Gunter, the executive director of the Westmont Park District, is running uncontested for mayor in the April 9 consolidated election. He will fill the seat vacated by Bill Rahn, who resigned in January due to health issues after serving as mayor since 1999.
Gunter said he has already met with village staff, including the police chief and fire chief, finance director and the village manager, who have opened the books for him as part of the transition process.
“It is important that I learn as much as I can about the job, and village staff has been working with me in that process,” Gunter said. “I will also be sitting in on some of the upcoming budget meetings that will be held for the new fiscal budget that the board will begin discussions on. It may take me awhile to learn everything, but I want to be prepared when I go in.”
In talking with residents, Gunter believes the biggest issue he will face as mayor is working with the board to bring in new businesses to the community. He said the current board has done a good job of filling vacancies along Ogden Avenue, but more must be done in the downtown area and along 63rd Street.
Another goal, he said, is to work with the village board and create common goals. Three new trustees will be elected to the board April 9.
“Whoever is elected to the board, we are going to have to work as one unit if we want to achieve anyting,” Gunter said.
Six candidates are running for three seats on the Westmont Village Board. None are incumbents, as Lee Fleming, Pat Klebenow and Ellen Emery opted not to seek re-election. That puts Jim Addington, Bruce Barker, Harold Barry III, Robert Plowman, Justin Scheid and Michael Uhlir in the running for the open trustee spots.
Gunter said he hasn’t endorsed any of the candidates, nor as he formed a slate with any.
Gunter — who will end his career at the park district within the next few years — has never held an elected office before, but has been part of the community for more than 30 years.
“I have known so many people in my time with the village, and that will be a big plus for me when I do become mayor,” he said. “It will definitely help with the job.”