Two terms enough for LeClercq : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Two terms enough for LeClercq|
|Oswego Village President to step down next spring|
|by John Etheredge|
Two terms as Oswego Village President will be enough for Brian LeClercq.
LeClercq confirmed this week he will not seek a third term as the village's top elected official in the next municipal election set for April 2015.
In announcing his decision, LeClercq said he has never considered nor wanted his service as village president to become a career.
"There is a lot you can debate about our nation's Founding Fathers, but they had careers and then they served the government and then went back to their careers," LeClercq said, adding, "I've been mindful that this is not to be a career for me and I have my own self-imposed term limit. I think it's time to step back now and let some other folks take the reins."
As village president, LeClercq earns an annual salary of $6,000 and a $50 stipend for each village board meeting attended up to 60 per year. He receives no health insurance benefits.
LeClercq said he may endorse a candidate for village president in next spring's election.
Two village board members, Tony Giles and Gail Johnson, have both recently announced plans to run for village president. Other candidates may come forward prior to the December deadline for candidates to file petitions to have their names placed on April ballot.
"I want to invite anyone who is interested in the job or a seat on the board to call me. I'd be happy to let them know what truly is involved in the job," LeClercq said.
He noted that some weeks he can spend as little as 10 hours on his village president duties while other weeks it can be as many as 50 hours.
The duties, he continued, involve everything from ceremonial ribbon cuttings at the opening of new businesses to interviewing applicants for the police chief's position to traveling to Washington and Springfield to lobby lawmakers and representatives of various government agencies.
Over the past year, LeClercq has also served as board chairman for the Metro West Council of government, an organization that represents 39 municipalities and county governments in Kendall, Kane and DeKalb counties.
A native of the village and graduate of Oswego High School, LeClercq said he has especially enjoyed representing the village at various benefit events. As an Eagle Scout, LeClercq said he also taken a special pride in recognizing local Boy Scouts at board meetings after they have earned their Eagle awards.
"It's always nice to shake hands and thank the people who are out doing great things in our community," he said.
LeClercq acknowledged that serving as village president has proven an educational experience for him.
"As a young man going into this I thought I could get so much done that after four years that would be it," he said. "Then I realized that, good golly, government runs a little differently from the rest of the world and relationships take a little longer to forge and understanding the climate, the landscape and the environment would take a little longer than I anticipated. As a result, it's taken two terms to accomplish a lot."
LeClercq added that he also learned that as a local elected official he is always on the job-even when he goes out with his family.
"People are always coming up (to me) in the grocery store and in local restaurants and they let me know exactly how they feel about things," he said.
LeClercq said anyone who runs for village president should understand that they will need to dedicate "some real time" to the job if elected.
"They should also know that the village has a great staff and they really need to trust the staff," he said, adding, "They should always be open to their fellow board members-especially those you disagree with because they can have some information you never truly considered. I think that makes for the best government."
Eyes possible bid for
township supervisor job
While LeClercq plans to leave village government when his term ends next year, he confirmed that he is interested in running for the position of Oswego Township supervisor in 2015. The position has been held since 1997 by Jim Detzler, a former village president.
Detzler has yet to announce if he will seek another term as township supervisor.
LeClercq said he has long been interested in township government and has enjoyed working with township officials as village president.
"I've learned (as village president) how development in a municipality can impact the unincorporated township residents who live nearby. Those residents need a voice to represent their interests and I believe I can make sure they have that voice," he said.
LeClercq won his first term as village president in 2007 by defeating two-term incumbent village president Craig Weber. In 2011, LeClercq won re-election in a two-way race with Judy Sollinger, a current village board member and former village clerk.
Prior to his election as village president, LeClercq had served two years as a village board member.
LeClercq said he is pleased with what the board and village staff have accomplished during his tenure as village president.
"We've done a lot of great things," he said.
As village president, LeClercq has the authority to set the agenda for board meetings, but does not vote on any issues unless the board deadlocks in a tie vote.
He said one of the biggest challenges he has faced personally as village president has been the occasions when he has disagreed with a majority decision by the board.
"Like it or not, I'm the face of the village, so when a majority on the board rules, I need to go out there, put a smile on, and promote what the board is doing," he said, adding, "That hasn't always been easy."
LeClercq said it has also been challenging at times to "take the temperature" on the board's collective opinion on new development proposals when they are first submitted to the village.
"That hasn't always been easy," he said.
LeClercq noted each board member "has a voice."
"Sometimes it's up to me to protect that one voice-whoever that board member is; they need to be heard," he said.
LeClercq began his term as village president amidst an unprecedented home and commercial building boom. In 2007, the village issued 284 permits for new single family homes and stores and restaurants were opening in new shopping centers.
But by 2009 the home and business boom had ended as the nation experienced the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. The economic crisis significantly reduced the village's building permit and sales tax revenues, requiring the board to cut costs and reduce staff during LeClercq's first term.
LeClercq noted that while home values were declining, property taxes for many village residents still increased as the village and other local units of government were still faced with the cost of providing services to residents.
"The cost of the services didn't go down," he said, adding, "So there is a whole balancing act over what services we provide and people have become accustomed to a way of life here in Oswego, so we've needed to balance that and I believe we've done a good job."
LeClercq said the board was able to improve the village's financial position despite the difficult financial times.
"That enabled us to start working through some of the aftermath of the boom-bust (economy)," he said, adding, "We (still) have unfinished subdivisions and we have developers who are no longer in existence who committed to things in those subdivisions. There are roads and sidewalks that need to be finished and lots that need to be filled. Then, on top of that, we had an explosion in foreclosures and all the fallout that went with that."
LeClercq said he is also pleased the board was able to approve a planning boundary agreement with the City of Joliet early during his first term. The board had previously approved similar agreements with the village's other neighboring communities, Aurora, Montgomery and Yorkville. The agreement should help long-range planning efforts by officials in both municipalities.
Intergovernmental cooperation between the village, neighboring municipalities and other local units of government has also improved for the past seven years, he said.
LeClercq said he also believes the board and village staff are more respectful of village residents, especially when they have a concern.
"Some people when they get into public office develop a sense of entitlement," he said, "But that is quite the opposite here. The residents are our customers and they are all we have. We have to treat them with respect, regardless if we agree with a particular situation or not. You have to respect each person no matter what (issue or question) they are bringing forward."
Looking forward to his remaining months as village president, LeClercq said he is hopeful that the village will receive a development proposal for the former Alexander Lumber yard property at Washington Street (U.S. Route 34) and Adams Street in the village's downtown.
LeClercq and other village officials were pleased last year when contractors demolished the former lumber yard building which had stood vacant and boarded up on the site for the past several years.