For 20 years our City Council has been bogged down by petty squabbles among the Council members. Threats of restraining orders, ethical code violations, etc. turned up and almost every session was accompanied by bickering. It’s probably one of the key reasons neighboring cities have achieved much more than we have. Most everyone else has
• Synchronized traffic lights
• Senior center
• Dog parks
• Access to a no kill animal shelter
• A stadium for their high school
• Sufficient sports parks
• A city hall
To date we have none of these, nor is there a likelihood of most of these appearing in the near future. Had the City Council members not be spending their energies fighting among themselves, perhaps we would have better services.
Council members McCullough and Rudolph had been the minority for 18 of those 20 years, but in 2010 Scott Voigts set a new Lake Forest campaign spending record and defeated Richard Dixon, causing a shake-up in the council.
At first, Peter Herzog, the long reigning “Prince” to Dixon’s “King”, welcomed Voigts, but it wasn’t long before Voigts and Herzog clashed. Several news articles chronicled these spats, and pretty soon Voigts aligned himself with McCullough and Rudolph and a new reign began at the City. The first fruit of the new alignment was the appointment of McCullough as Mayor, a post she held only twice under the 18 year Herzog regime. And Voigts appointed himself Mayor Pro Tem.
Out of power, Herzog found himself on the wrong end of 3-2 decisions for the first time. To compound his woes, his junior partner, Mark Tettemer, decided to move on after 8 years in the Council, so Herzog, once the Prince, looked like becoming the Pauper. Accustomed to the taste and the trappings of power, Herzog recruited two allies to run for the 2 upcoming Council seats. He nurtured them, tutored them, attended their fund raisers, gave them advice, and even gave them money.
The people who endorsed him, endorsed them. With these two allies on the Council, Herzog would once more be in power.
But Scott Voigts was aware of Herzog’s plans, and in the middle of all of this, he had a falling out with Rudolph, and his 3-2 majority was in danger. So Voigts got his own allies to run. His former campaign manager, Dwight Robinson, and one of his major campaign contributors, Adam Nick, soon appeared on the candidate list. With Robinson and Nick on his side, Voigts would keep the power.
Voigts’ backers, the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, had made it their mission to capture control of every level of the political process. They are busy at work at City Councils, and at the State and Federal levels, backing their candidates and attacking with a fury, those who oppose them. In Lake Forest we’ve seen, for the first time, attack ads. What makes them even more unusual, is that they are attack ads on fellow Republicans. Voigts and his backers are so determined to get their allies on the Council, they will pull out all the stops. One of their fellow conspirators calls it “purging”. Quite frankly you have to admire their conviction and determination, even if you don’t like their tactics.
So we have a struggle between the old guard, represented by Herzog who is trying to get Anderson and Zechmeister on board, and the new Turks, Voigts who is trying to get Nick and Robinson on board. Both Herzog and Voigts hope to gain the 3-2 edge so that their brand of politics can control the future of Lake Forest.
The two groups differ on several issues. Herzog represents the status quo. He thinks he’s done a great job for the past 20 years and he’s happy to see it continue just the way it is. He doesn’t care that other cities have done a much better job delivering services to their citizens, he’s happy that we are solvent and that every year we make a little more progress. Anderson and Zechmeister go along with most of the things Herzog says. They have few positions that differ substantially from his.
The Voigts people are less happy with the way things are. Nick especially wants us to do a better job in a host of areas so numerous I can only ask you to go to his website. Robinson is less concerned with issues. He’s busy gathering endorsements and posting pictures of his family, but it you corner him, he will give you a list of the things he’s unhappy with, but it’s much less extensive than Nick’s list, and apparently he thinks there’s a lot the City can do about what happens in the Schools (there isn’t) and this is one of his chief areas of concern.
At the end of the day, the high school/soap opera carrying ons in the campaign and on the Council do not serve the interests of the people of Lake Forest who get the chance to vote for 5 independent voices, not two social groups. Decisions about the future of Lake Forest should not be made in the living rooms of Peter Herzog or Scott Voigts. They should be made in the Council chambers and they should be made in the best interests of the City.
Powerful forces are aligned with the Herzog and Voigts clans. Voigts has the extreme right wing of the Republican Party on his side and they launched three attack ads (to date) for Nick and Robinson. Herzog has the developers and the Sheriff and Supervisors on his side, and they have been busy endorsing his choices – the Andermeister twins. We just got an insight into their thinking from a post yesterday from one of their chief supporters, Margie Matsil, who spoke about the rest of us as “outsiders” and “invaders” (After being flamed by several posters, she deleted her post so you’ve been spared the pain of reading it).
Lake Forest doesn’t need any more partisan bickering. We don’t need powerful forces outside our City trying to shape what we do. Developers who live elsewhere want to flood our City with new homes. The Sheriff who lives elsewhere wants to build a maximum security prison. We want people on our City council who have no allegiance to the developers, or the Sheriff, or the Supervisors. The only allegiances a City Council member should have is their allegiance to you.
When you vote, vote for someone who will put you first. Vote for someone who will Put Lake Forest First.