Urlacher’s brother vies for Mettawa mayor against trustee
Updated: March 21, 2013 12:10AM
METTAWA — The mayoral election in tiny Mettawa in Lake County has captured a lot of attention for a town that has only 545 residents.
But most communities don’t have a famous athlete’s brother on the ballot.
Casey Urlacher, 33, younger brother of Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, is facing Trustee Jeff Clark, 56, in the race for the tiny enclave’s mayoral seat. This is Urlacher’s first bid for public office.
Based on the 2009 election results in Mettawa, which current Mayor Jess Ray won by just three votes, April 9 looks to be a nail biter.
With such a slim margin at stake, the candidates are doing their best to meet as many registered voters as possible. Outsiders might expect most Mettawa residents would know everybody else in such a small town. Clark, a 22-year resident, said that’s not the case.
“Since we are a community with one house per five acre maximum, we attract folks who like their privacy,” Clark said.
Maintaining that privacy rates as one of the top issues for both candidates, who both pledge they will keep zoning in check to avoid future big-box stores, like Costco, or major commercial development, like the sprawling Grainger campus.
“We do not want any more commercial development in our village,” Urlacher said.
“We need to protect the zoning that our founding fathers and former administrators have laid out,” said Clark.
Clark is concerned about the village upping its stewardship of its open lands.
“That’s something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Clark said.
The village owns about 70 acres of open green space. Clark believes the village should maintain the ecosystem, particularly with the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer, oak wilt and proliferation of buckthorn approaching.
Urlacher, a self-employed excavation and contractor and former arena football player, said he has the time to devote to the job of mayor.
“I’m not worried about the time,” he said. “All I care about is the residents.”
Urlacher earned a business degree from Lake Forest College in 2003 and has lived in Mettawa for seven years. He said he wants to continue the government transparency begun by the current mayor.
“The village didn’t even have its meetings on a website. They were posted on light poles in town,” he said.
In the past four years, Urlacher said the current mayor has caught up with village financial audits, a practice he’d like to continue.
Clark, a retiree who earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin, said if elected he would like to return to having an attorney, accountant and village administrator, even if they are part-time.
“Those positions were lost in the current administration,” Clark said. “I’ve got plans to be more team-based.”
Should he lose, Clark will still has two years in his term as trustee. Prior to his election as a trustee, Clark served on the village’s Plan Commission for 10 years.