DiMaria challenging Staackmann for mayor in Action Party contest
Updated: December 23, 2012 6:10AM
MORTON GROVE — Trustee Dan DiMaria is planning to challenge Mayor Dan Staackmann in February’s primary election to become the Morton Grove Action Party candidate for mayor.
DiMaria, who has served as village clerk as well as trustee, said Staackmann’s failure to involve residents enough in the decision-making process as a reason he is running. He also said Staackmann has not done enough personally to help bring new business to the village.
Staackmann said DiMaria had the opportunity as a trustee and the village board liaison to Morton Grove’s Economic Development Commission to take an active role in attracting business.
He also questioned DiMaria’s motivation in running after he sought but failed to receive the Action Party slating to run for mayor. Staackmann said everyone who sought the party’s endorsement agreed not to challenge the candidates who were selected.
“He’s not a man of his word,” Staackmann said.
Action Party Trustee Larry Gomberg has also announced plans to run for mayor as an independent next April.
Filing for the primary election runs from Nov. 19 through 26 and both DiMaria and Staackmann will have to file during that time.
DiMaria, a long-time member of the Action Party, served as clerk before he was appointed to the village board. He then won a full four-year term.
DiMaria did not run for re-election in 2007, but two years later was elected to the board with the greatest number of votes of any of the six candidates running for trustee.
Staackmann served as trustee for six years before he was elected mayor in 2009. Before that he served for 16 years on the Morton Grove Park Board.
“I think I served the community well on the park board during its financial crisis,” Staackmann said. He noted that the park district has since been able to maintain stable finances.
Staackmann said he became mayor during the worst of the recession, but managed to stabilize village finances.
“We weathered the storm. We made hard decisions. We built up a solid fund balance without repeatedly raising taxes.”
DiMaria said that after the Action Party slating committee did not endorse him, he planned to walk away.
“People asked me to run. I received letters, emails. People stopped me in the store and said, ‘We want you to run for mayor,’” DiMaria said.
DiMaria said he did not want to leave the Action Party, which holds every elected office in the village. He said if he loses the Feb. 26 primary he will not run as an independent in April.
But he said he would present an enthusiastic face for Morton Grove in its efforts to attract new businesses. He pledged to be involved personally in economic development efforts, contacting potential businesses directly and meeting with them, things he said he could not do as trustee.
He also said Staackmann has not done enough to involve residents in the decision-making process.
He cited opposition to a proposed waste transfer station, which brought a large number of opponents out to a village board meeting.
He said the village should have had a town hall meeting prior to that to give residents a chance to give their opinions on the project.
In March trustees unanimously approved a resolution that authorized an agreement between the village and Lakeshore Waste Services allowing the waste management company to take the first steps in moving forward with the project by applying for a permit with the IEPA to build the proposed facility.
“You need to listen to the residents,” DiMaria said.
Staackmann said the village could not hold a town hall meeting on the project because had it gone forward the EPA would have required a public hearing. Prior discussions between the village board and residents, he said, could have created a conflict for the board.
“It could have seemed pre-determined or collusion or that the board was unduly influenced,” Staackmann said. “That has happened (in other towns) in the past.”
Staackmann also contended that as liaison to the Economic Development Commission DiMaria as trustee could have taken an active role in attracting business to the village.
As success of his administration he pointed to the location of Culver’s restaurant in Morton Grove as well as plans for long-time village business Pequod’s Pizza to move into a new building.
“The turn down in the economy has made it difficult to bring in business,” Staackmann said.
In addition, Staackmann said that under his leadership the village has had balanced budgets the past three years. Also, he said, a total of 37 miles of roads have been resurfaced.