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Local Election

Bolingbrook mayoral candidates face off in fierce race

Challenger seeks to unseat longtime Bolingbrook mayor

BOLINGBROOK – The mayoral race in Bolingbrook shows in some ways the 2016 U.S. presidential election hasn’t ended.

The bitter fight between President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lingers on in the race between Will County board member Jackie Traynere and longtime Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar. 

Both were delegates to presidential conventions, with Claar supporting Trump and Traynere supporting U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Traynere said the catalyst for her effort to unseat Claar was him inviting Trump to the Bolingbrook Golf Club in September, which stirred protest. Traynere was among the protesters at the time, encouraging people to sign a petition and organize removing Claar from his office as mayor, which he has occupied for 31 years. 

“Trump’s visit to Bolingbrook, invited by the mayor to a publicly funded golf club – that was the catalyst. It’s not the reason. There’s plenty of reasons to run against [Claar],” Traynere said. 

Claar said he doesn’t agree with everything Trump says but also thinks what Trump says has been twisted and distorted. But Trump is now the president and “the people have spoken,” he said.

“She’s just looking for something to bait,” he said. 

Traynere is running on the Bolingbrook United ticket that includes Bob Jaskiewicz, Mary Helen Reyna and Terri Ransom for village trustees and Jaime Olson as village clerk. 

Claar is running on the Bolingbrook First Party ticket with Michael Lawler, Sheldon Watts and Maria Zarate for village trustees and Carol Penning as village clerk. 

The race has gained a high profile as Traynere picked up support from Illinois Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin. 

She said running for mayor wasn’t a lifelong ambition and that she was “recruited by the community.”

When she went to protest Trump’s visit to Bolingbrook, she said she worked with several groups – such as Suburban Families Against Hate – that were later incensed by Trump winning the election. 

Traynere said Bolingbrook should be represented by someone who “reflects and respects” the community, which is not Claar, she said, because he invited someone who made controversial statements about women and minorities.  

“All of this while plunging the community into a huge amount of debt,” Traynere said.

Traynere referred to a Moody’s Investors Service report from June 2016 stating Bolingbrook has about $316 million in general obligation bond debt. 

Claar said Bolingbrook is one of the most diverse communities in the nation and its village board has two Hispanic and two black trustees. He said the village has a good relationship with the Filipino, Muslim and Hispanic communities and diversity is celebrated through cultural activities. 

“I don’t know how much more diverse we can get,” Claar said.

Claar said the village has a plan to pay down its debt without raising taxes. Over the decades, village officials have built infrastructure that was needed for economic growth and development, and money cannot be borrowed without a plan to pay for it, he said.

Traynere said, if elected, she would support freezing elected officials’ pay, performing an audit to gain a true picture of the village’s finances and assessing amenities she said are a financial drain, such as the village’s airport, golf club and Americana Estates subdivision. 

“We can’t keep accumulating that debt and kicking that can down the road,” Traynere said. 

Claar said freezing elected officials’ pay wouldn’t save much and that the village has an audit conducted annually by an outside firm. He said the golf club and airport break even while Americana Estates is recovering from the housing market crash in 2008 with more lot sales. 

Claar said he wants to continue as mayor to see through more housing development, capital improvement projects and youth programs in the village. 

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