The last time North Riverside voters went to the polls to elect a village president, the outcome was already determined. With no competition in sight, the VIP slate of Mayor Richard Scheck, Clerk Charmaine Kutt and trustees Kenneth Krochmal, Thomas Corgiat and Joan Sargent won in a walkover.
While 2005 brings little in the way of a change, voters will at least have a choice when it comes to the office of mayor.
Sylvester A. Hartigan, who said he's lived in the village for seven years, filed nominating petitions to run as an Independent against Scheck, trumpeting the slogan "more Scheck, more taxes."
"He just spends money like a drunken sailor, but it's not coming out of his pocket," Hartigan said. "We've got a small town with a big budget."
The crux of Hartigan's campaign is opposition to instituting or raising user fees in North Riverside.
"All those little fees are taxes," he said.
In addition, Hartigan said that the village's Recreation Department budget doesn't give residents its money's worth.
"We have a massive recreation budget," Hartigan said. "And rather than exhaust that budget on trips to casinos, I'd like to open a drop-off daycare for seniors. The Rec Center is very conducive to seniors."
Hartigan also explored challenging the petitions of the entire VIP slate, but said Monday that he decided not to forge ahead with that plan.
"I don't know anything about him," said Scheck of Hartigan. "I've met him maybe three times, He's been in the village board room once in the 16 years I've been mayor. He really hasn't done anything in this town."
In answer to Hartigan's criticisms regarding the recreation budget and the village's budget generally, Scheck said, "It's easy to say little comments about the Rec Department until you jump right in and get a little exposure to the finances in the village.
"I think he needs to look at the fact that we froze real estate taxes 16 straight years and look at all the programs we subsidize."
This isn't the first time Hartigan has thrown his hat into the political ring. Back in 1998, as a Maywood resident, he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the state representative seat in the 7th District against Eugene Moore, Karen Yarbrough and Tommie Jones.
He recently filed paperwork creating the Friends of Sylvester Hartigan with the State Board of Elections, which lists Rosemary O'Connor of Lombard as the chairman and North Riverside resident Dee Fant as treasurer.
The 44-year-old Hartigan is a divorced father of two who owns and operates Sylvester Hartigan Trucking, a trucking/snowplowing business. Hartigan said that he attended St. Joseph High School in Westchester, dropping out in 1978 to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. He received his high school diploma from Portland (Maine) High School, and received a degree in criminal justice from the Danville Area Community College.