Crestwood mayor won’t run again; ending longtime village service
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org May 29, 2012 10:50PM
For the first time in decades there won't be a Stranczek on the ballot next year in Crestwood. Bob Stranczek, son of former long-time mayor Chester Stanczek, won't seek re-election. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 12:35PM
After more than half a century, there won’t be a Stranczek on the ballot in Crestwood next spring.
Robert Stranczek, who took over as the village’s mayor in October 2007 after the retirement of his father, Chester, said Tuesday he won’t seek re-election in April.
Stranczek said he wants to be able to devote more time to his family, and that his business is consuming more of his time.
“I want to free up my time and enjoy my life,” he said.
In a news release, the 47-year-old Stranczek said he’d spent the last several months discussing “my future plans with both my family and friends.”
Before being named mayor, Stranczek served as a village trustee for nearly nine years. He was elected to his current term in April 2009.
His father served as the village’s mayor for 38 years, and before that spent a dozen years as a village trustee. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002 and lives in Florida, and his son said he would like to be able to make more frequent trips to see his ailing dad.
The younger Stranczek oversees Cresco Lines, a Harvey-based trucking company his father built up and which is primarily in the business of hauling steel. As the economy has improved and steel demand has rebounded, running the business is consuming more of his time, the mayor said.
Robert Stranczek said it was rumored that he and his family would move out of the village once his term ends next year, but denied he is considering that.
“I was born and raised there,” he said.
One longtime trustee, Louis Presta, said the younger Stranczek always looked out for the best interests of the village and “he always ran things like a business.” Presta, who’s been on the village board for two decades, said he intends to run for mayor next spring.
“I was thinking about it for the last couple of years,” the 61-year-old Presta said, adding he wouldn’t seek the position had Stranczek decided to run for another term.
Another trustee, John Toscas, said he was not surprised by Stranczek’s decision and called it the “end of a regime.”
“Rumors have been circulating for months that he wouldn’t run,” Toscas, elected in April 2011, said.
An attorney who campaigned on bringing more transparency to village government, Toscas said Stranczek would have been “foolish” to seek re-election considering the village is embroiled in a controversy over its use of a well that had been tainted by vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen.
Frank Scaccia, Crestwood’s former water system operator, and Theresa Neubauer, former water department clerk and supervisor, are accused by federal authorities of lying to state environmental regulators about using the well water to supplement Crestwood’s drinking water supply from Lake Michigan. Scaccia and Neubauer — who has been on leave as Crestwood’s police chief since the federal indictment was unsealed in August — are scheduled to go on trial this summer.
“Most of the people I’ve talked to in this village are very upset about the water contamination and how the village handled it,” Toscas said. “I don’t think he (Stranczek) could have won re-election.”
The village told residents and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency it was using only Lake Michigan water after 1985, when the vinyl chloride was discovered. But regulators later discovered the village continued to use the well for as much as 20 percent of its water from 1985 to 2007. The village is facing about 200 lawsuits filed by current and former residents regarding the well water.
Toscas said he also is mulling a run for mayor and expects to make an announcement within the next few months.
Along with mayor, Crestwood residents next April will be voting for village clerk and three trustees.
Stranczek said he made his announcement now “to give all potential candidates ample time to explore their options.”
After he was named mayor, Robert Stranczek said his first priority would be getting a supermarket to open in the village. Crestwood has been without a major grocery store since Dominick’s closed its store on Cicero Avenue several years ago, but Ultra Foods will open there by the middle of June.