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Great Lakes Article:

2 mayors join Water Commission
Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream leaders sworn in
By Bob Goldsborough
Chicago Tribune
03/16/04


The DuPage Water Commission continued its unprecedented turnover as three new members--including two mayors--were sworn in on a board that only a year ago faced dissolution.

Ten of the 13 board members have been appointed since 2002 at the agency, which delivers Lake Michigan water to 25 towns in DuPage County and two private utilities.

On Thursday, the commission welcomed Glen Ellyn Village President Greg Mathews, who recently was appointed to the commission's board by Wheaton and Glen Ellyn town leaders.

Also installed were Carol Stream Village President Ross Ferraro and attorney John Vrdolyak, whose appointments previously had been announced.

An attorney in private practice in Chicago, Mathews, 49, has led Glen Ellyn since 2001. He previously was a Glen Ellyn trustee from 1993 to 1997 and briefly had served as village president in 1997.

"I think it's going to be an interesting new challenge to represent a broader community than I have," Mathews said. "Certainly the DuPage Water Commission has issues facing it, and I will be glad to participate in the discussion and resolution of those issues, and hope to do my best to represent my district."

Mathews replaces Lisle Planning and Zoning Commission member Richard Thorn, who stepped down after 7 1/2 years on the Lake Michigan water agency's board. Thorn, 70, will continue to serve the commission in the appointed job of treasurer.

"My term was up in June, and my house happened to be redistricted out of the district that I was representing," Thorn said.

"And, the towns wanted all mayors on there."

Indeed, Mathews becomes the fifth mayor or village president out of the six municipally appointed seats on the commission. Commissioner Allan Poole, Naperville's public utilities director, now is the only non-mayor on the commission's board.

By comparison, in 2001, just two of the six municipal appointees on the commission's board were mayors. The six appointees named by the DuPage County Board's chairman typically were county staff members or business leaders.

Observers believe more mayors have joined the board because of the agency's increased politicization, which began after DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom initiated an ultimately unsuccessful effort last April to dissolve the commission and make it a part of DuPage County government.

Schillerstrom's bid helped to create what has been an increasingly partisan environment on the board between the member communities, which funded the commission's creation, and the cash-strapped county government, which represents unincorporated areas that haven't had access to Lake Michigan water.

In addition, the county government has tried to tap into the agency's excess cash reserves, striking a deal last year to get $15 million a year from the commission over five years in exchange for allowing the commission to remain independent.

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