Hawthorn Woods’ second-term mayor is now the Lake County Municipal League’s first-term president.
Mayor Joseph Mancino sees big things on the horizon for Lake County’s villages and cities as they work together to foster cost-savings for residents, share with one another about initiatives that work and present a unified voice in Springfield.
“Coming together as a group carries a lot more weight and saves a ton of money,” said Mancino, who became president in mid-July. “Now we go and (state legislators) hear from all 58 municipalities in Lake County at once.”
Mancino will be president for at least one year. Elections take place annually. The league also has a recently hired new executive director, Deb Waszak, who started July 1.
“He’ll be an excellent president. I’m really excited to work with him,” Waszak said of Mancino. “He has new ideas for how the league can bring value to its membership.”
Mancino, 48, said he plans to bring what he has learned in his five years at the helm of Hawthorn Woods government into his new role.
“When I got in to office, we reorganized the village and designed it to work more like a small business. People received new titles. We created new positions and a new authority flow,” he said.
“We’ve completely changed the culture,” Mancino said. “Our residents are our customers and the services we provide are our product.”
Mancino said he brings that service culture to his new role, ever mindful that the league should be more than a social club.
“I have served a little over five years on the Municipal League,” he said. “I’ve been very active.”
Mancino lobbied on municipalities’ behalf with regard to minimum manning and fire district consolidation legislation, he said. Although the league did not prevail in its efforts to thwart the consolidation bill — it opposed the process, not the concept — Mancino staunchly believes the league can play a key role in decisions affecting Lake County.
“There are several ways that the Municipal League benefits residents directly,” he said. Foremost are collaboration among top municipal executives, cooperative buying groups and protecting municipal interests in Springfield, Mancino said.
His chief goals for the coming year include concentrating on services applicable to Lake County, service and idea sharing.
“For instance, in Hawthorn Woods, we use Lake Zurich dispatch for police and Mundelein inspection services for inspections,” he said. “We’d like to act as a liaison for those types of arrangements.
“We have stormwater management issues that are unique to the county. And another local issue is the Routes 53 and 12 project that is very important. It’s important regionally, but of very unique importance here locally.”
Some Lake County municipalities — including Long Grove and Hawthorn Woods — thwarted progress of the highway in the past. But village leaders today simply want to ensure that the manner in which the project proceeds is as minimally disruptive to their town centers as possible, Mancino said.
“From a regional perspective, Hawthorn Woods supports the Route 53 extension,” he said. “From a local perspective, we have not officially endorsed it because we don’t know what it looks like yet. We are waiting to see what the real impact may be.”
Michael Talbett, chief village officer for Kildeer and the lone village administrator on the Illinois Municipal League, said he is glad Mancino is the league’s new elected leader.
“You have to have two things. One is energy and enthusiasm, and the other is vision,” Talbett said. “Joe has both of those things.”
Among the characteristics of Mancino’s leadership style is consensus-building, which will serve him well, Talbett said.
“When you’re dealing with elected officials, they’re all alphas,” he said. “They all have their vision of what’s right, and if it’s not shared, you’re going to butt heads. So you have to be a consensus-builder.”
Between the league’s new executive director and president, Lake County will see positive progress, Talbett said.
“Joe can push forward an agenda that’s more proactive than reactive, because Joe is that way,” he said.
Mancino, CEO of digital billboard company Green Signs of Chicago, has been married to his wife, Renée, for 23 years. They have lived in Hawthorn Woods more than 18 years and have a 22-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son.