After roughly 35 years, Roger Claar plans to no longer serve as the mayor of Bolingbrook.
Claar did not respond to calls inquiring about his retirement Thursday and even hung up the phone after he was contacted by The Herald-News, but Village Trustee Michael Carpanzano said Claar is retiring because he wants to spend more time with his family.
Carpanzano said he didn't think there was another mayor besides Claar more connected with residents.
“Everyone knows him as the guy who is going to get things done and he got things done for Bolingbrook,” Carpanzano said.
Carpanzano said Claar’s last village board meeting will be on Tuesday. He said Claar has hinted at his retirement all year and that he plans to spend time in California with his granddaughter. He said Claar will likely continue to spend time in Illinois as well.
Claar first became mayor in 1986 to fill a vacancy and has been elected to the post 10 times since then.
Carpanzano credited the explosion of Bolingbrook’s population over the decades to Claar.
“He brought not only an industrial base to the town but a retail base, a hospital, an airport, a beautiful country club and entire outdoor shopping center. His vision really saw all that through,” Carpanzano said.
Claar was the subject of a 2007 Chicago magazine profile that noted during his time as mayor he’s overseen a “huge increase” in the range of housing prices, a “near doubling” of the village’s population and that he’s “brought in business, most obviously in the form of the shallow canyon of distribution centers you drive through on I-55 between Chicago and I-80.”
“Along the way, he’s bolstered himself just as dramatically, amassing a huge campaign war chest and making strategic political ties to become one of the most powerful mayors in Illinois,” according to Chicago magazine.
Claar’s mayoral opponent Jackie Traynere, a Will County board member, claimed Claar plans to remain in control of Bolingbrook and fund the next mayor’s campaign.
“The only reason he’s not putting his name on the ballot is because he knows he’ll be beaten,” Traynere said.
She suggested Claar would support Bolingbrook Deputy Mayor Michael Lawler as the next mayor. Lawler failed to respond to a message and Claar failed to return a call on the issue on Thursday afternoon.
Traynere said when people look at communities that surround Bolingbrook, such as Naperville and Romeoville, they see positive growth. But what they don’t see in those communities is the massive debt that Bolingbrook has, she said.
“So when you give Roger credit for the growth, you need to give him credit for the debt,” she said.
Traynere fell 151 votes short in the 2017 election that highlighted Claar's controversial support of U.S. President Donald Trump. Traynere said Claar inviting Trump to Bolingbrook Golf Club — also known as the “Rog Mahal” — was the catalyst for her run for mayor.
Trump’s visit in 2016 led to up to 200 people protesting outside the golf club for several hours.
Claar has said he doesn’t agree with everything Trump says but also thinks what Trump says has been twisted and distorted.
Claar’s support of Trump also attracted vandalism at his home on Sept. 20, 2017, from Rae Tuszynski, 32, who spray-painted a message on his garage calling him a "Nazi Trump lover” and at least seven swastikas on his property. Tuszynski pleaded guilty to threatening a public official, criminal damage to property and committing a hate crime against Claar.
“With all due respect, I’m a transgender Puerto Rican and you (have a) hate crime against an old white man,” Tuszynski said.