ELECTION 2013: Rich Veenstra ready to take the reins as next Addison mayor

ADDISON — Election Night was smooth sailing for Rich Veenstra, who ran unopposed for mayor of Addison.

With all 27 precincts reporting, Veenstra had received 1,907 votes. Vote totals are unofficial until certified.

Deputy mayor of the village for eight years, Veenstra said he's looking forward to continuing to work with the Village Board on economic growth and developing businesses in town.

"We have I think a group of very strong elected trustees in general. We've been together for quite a while now and seen a lot of growth in Addison," Veenstra said. "We agree on the vision — at times we don't agree on how to get there — but we agree on how we want the village to get there."

An Addison resident since 1973, Veenstra has seen the village progress significantly, he said. Namely, the business growth on Lake Street and attention to flooding problems has been an ongoing process for the past decade or longer.

"When Lake Street would go underwater, (residents would) joke. It'd get cloudy, and there'd be reporters waiting for it to flood. Lake Street doesn't flood anymore," Veenstra said. "We at times had difficulty deciding where to eat in Addison because there weren't a lot of restaurants. Now the restaurants are numerous."

Veenstra wants to see more of those vacancies on Lake Street fill, while also maintaining the town's role as the "fourth-largest industrial community in the state," he said.

"One of the things that obviously jumps out at everybody is the Dominick's Plaza," Veenstra added. "We have to get a development in that area."

While the economy certainly has affected Addison, Veenstra said he's proud of the village's AAA bond rating, which it has worked hard to achieve.

As current deputy mayor, Veenstra fills in for retiring Mayor Larry Hartwig when he's not in town, presiding over Village Board meetings, attending ribbon cuttings and grand openings and delivering the yearly Memorial Day event speech in honor of local veterans.

Veenstra said he's been happy to have Hartwig as a mentor.

"Larry's a great leader," he said. "He set direction for the board, and really kept everyone on track. He's been very involved in other areas, at the intergovernmental and state level. He's been very pleasant to work with in terms of mentoring and being open."

Veenstra will replace Hartwig during a swearing-in ceremony on May 2. He said he plans to continue Hartwig's "Ask the Mayor" series on Addison Community Television, and also look for more ways to bring information to residents through community forums.

He also hopes some of the village trustees will join him on the series, so it can be an inclusive question-and-answer session.

"One of the things I think is very important is the community needs to be self-sufficient but also needs to be proud of itself," Veenstra said. "I think there's a lot of great things going on in the village, and it's making residents aware of them. We want to be revitalizing and re-energizing the spirit of the town."