MINOOKA — Minooka Village President Pat Brennan has one contender for the village president’s seat — Jacqueline McKinney.
Brennan completes his first term as village president this year, but he’s been involved with the village since 1999, he said. He came on as chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board, a position he held for two years before being elected to the board of trustees in 2001.
Brennan chose not to seek re-election in 2005, but became a vice-chairman and then chairman of the Grundy Economic Development Council. He continued to represent the village as a liaison during those four years with the GEDC.
Four years ago Brennan decided to run for village president against incumbent Jason Briscoe.
“I missed (being on the board) and wanted to be more active and involved,” Brennan said.
Briscoe dropped out of the race and Brennan won the election unopposed.
During the past four years as village president, Brennan said the village has reduced its spending and, at the same time, lowered taxes.
Brennan sees out-of-work residents as the biggest challenge in Minooka.
“We are trying to change that by bringing jobs to Minooka,” Brennan said. “We strive to do more for the people suffering without jobs.”
By bringing in several commercial/industrial companies, 1,000 new jobs were created over the last few years. Grainger Corporation brought 500 jobs to the community, Electrolux 200-plus jobs and Trader Joe’s will bring 400 to 500 more jobs when it opens in October of this year.
While the village has had a significant revenue loss due to the reduction in equalized assessed valuation over the last several years, Minooka has not increased the tax levy to make up for it, Brennan said.
Spending has decreased by $300,000 while the village continues to maintain services for residents and update the village’s infrastructure.
Village staff and trustees continue to research ways to pay for projects, such as grants for parks and recreation and infrastructure.
Most recently, the village was awarded two grants totaling more than $7 million to rebuild and widen the railroad bridge over Ridge Road, which will ease congestion on the main thoroughfare.
“People are very happy about this,” Brennan said.
Brennan is a member and past president of Minooka Lions Club, member of the Knights of Columbus and member of the American Legion.
He has served the community since 1999 and wants to continue serving Minooka and its residents in the best possible way.
“I am determined to keep Minooka a nice place to call home,” he said.
McKinney served nearly four years on the Grundy County Board, from 2006 to 2010. During that time she chaired the Criminal Justice and Public Relations committees and served on Environmental, Technology and Buildings and Grounds committees.
“After having served on the Grundy County Board, I learned I can expand my sphere of influence and affect an entire community in the most positive of ways,” she said. “That is why I am in this race.”
She is currently a full time student, completing her Master’s Degree in addictions counseling. She is an advocate for people who are mentally ill and for those addicted to drugs and alcohol, she said.
She is a member of the Chicago Red Cross and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Grundy County. She volunteers during Minooka clean-up day and career days in Minooka schools.
She has also been a member of the Grundy County Chamber, Minooka United Women’s Club and the Minooka Lions Club.
“My entire professional life has been about service,” McKinney said. “As the daughter of a small business owner I worked for many years serving the public.”
McKinney sees the lack of downtown businesses as one of the village’s biggest challenges. To change that, she would continue working with Grundy County to bring in more businesses and work with other local municipalities that have successful downtowns.
“There has to be a way that we can bring businesses into Minooka,” she said. “I will collaborate with other mayors to try to figure out what’s wrong.”
She would also like to bring a “real” festival to Minooka.
“What we have now seems antiquated considering our growth in population and in comparison to what neighboring towns offer,” she said.
McKinney believes a hands-on approach is what the community needs. She would like to hold quarterly town hall-style meetings and work to bridge the gap between long-time and new residents.
“I want to know everybody in this community,” she said. I want a personal touch. I am a people person and I want to help people.”