3 candidates vying to replace Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder

April 8, 2013 3:49:23 PM PDT
The race for mayor of Arlington Heights is heating up for Tuesday's election.

The longtime mayor of the northwest suburb is not running for re-election and three candidates are vying for the opening.

When it comes to running a political campaign, Ron Drake is the most experienced candidate running for village president. Born in Mt. Prospect, Drake moved to Arizona in the 1990s and served from 2000-2006 as mayor of Avondale, a then-booming Phoenix suburb.

"Money Magazine ranked us third for all the cities in the United States for job growth while I was mayor between 2000 and 2005," Drake said.

Candidate for mayor and public interest lawyer Mark Hellner is critical of Drake's campaign strategy.

"He's running on a record from 12 or 15 years ago," Hellner said.

Arlington Heights must first address its fiscal issues to attract businesses and jobs, according to Hellner.

"We have a $105 million of unfunded pension liability out there and that's grown pretty rapidly over the last several years," he said.

Retiring Mayor Arlene Mulder led Arlington Heights for the past 20 years. The village saw its population grow to around 75,000 residents. Its economy boomed during the 1990s then slowed during the great recession.

A third candidate for mayor, Village Trustee Thomas Hayes, notes that during the past year, 113 new businesses have opened, adding 464 new jobs.

"I think a majority of people in Arlington Heights are happy with the quality of life that we have established," Hayes said.

But Drake counters that taxes are driving away many longtime residents.

"I mean there's people that even last night that say we're going to have to move because we can't afford to live here anymore,"

Drake was endorsed by U.S. Senator John McCain with whom Drake became friends while in Arizona.

Hellner called the endorsement amusing and irrelevant.

"Looking backward is not going to allow us to move forward. So it probably hurt him is my guess," Hellner said.