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New Westmont mayor plans to keep executive director position with park district

WESTMONT – Westmont’s recently elected Mayor Ron Gunter has been doubling as the head administrator for the village and the Westmont Park District, and he doesn’t have any plans to change that.

“I’m not ready to retire,” Gunter said of his position as executive director of the park district, where he has worked for 37 years. “If everything got too hectic and I felt that I was doing a disservice, then I would (retire). I’m prepared to, but I’m not ready to.”

Gunter pointed to several park district projects he hopes to see through, including a new, five-acre park in the works.

“I’ve been so involved as the director, and because of that, I’ve worked with the officials and village staff, and that makes it easier for me,” Gunter said. “I’ve been part of the team in Westmont for a number of years.”

The role of mayor is considered a part-time job.

Approaching his two-month mark as mayor, Gunter said he is pleased with the role thus far.

“So far I’m very pleased,” Gunter said. “I feel very good about my first almost two months, and I’m excited about things moving forward.”

Gunter’s first big move as mayor came June 17, when he and the Westmont Village Board approved a 1.5 percent eating tax that officials say will bring in $760,000 annually to the village and alleviate an estimated $3 million loss in revenues after residents repealed home rule status in November.

The tax also will allow the village to issue $10 million in bonds to use for road repairs throughout town, officials said.

The village also has finalized plans for a TIF district in his brief tenure.

The Village Board has been working well together, Gunter said.

“We’ve built up a nice relationship even before we were on the board,” Gunter said. “I not only knew the three (trustees) coming in, but I knew the three sitting because I’m acting in the community.”

He doesn’t foresee any conflicts of interest regarding his roles with the village and the park district, adding that if there were, he would abstain from a vote or excuse himself from discussion.

“I have an elected board who would probably be the decision-maker for the park district,” Gunter said. “I would excuse myself from the discussions, and if there was an issue, I would let the deputy handle it.”

As for future plans, Gunter said the board, staff and residents need to work together and keep open lines of communication.

“It’s a team effort,” Gunter said. “We need to get everyone on the same page. I want better communication with the public, and I think we’re on track for that.”

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