Candidates Run on United Lake Zurich Party Slate

Village President Suzanne Branding runs for office with slate of candidates.


The United Lake Zurich Party filed its nominating papers for six individuals to be placed on the April 9, 2013 ballot:  Suzanne K. Branding for Village President; Kathleen Johnson for Village Clerk; Helmut Gerlach, Todd Minden, Ildiko Schultz, and Debra Vander Weit for Village Trustees. 

Suzanne Branding was born and raised in Lake Zurich before moving away for a number of years, returning to Lake Zurich eight years ago.  Ms. Branding, a graduate of Ela Vernon (now Lake Zurich) High school in Lake Zurich and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, is married with 2 adult children.  Prior to raising her family, she was a sales, marketing, and training representative for a major Illinois telecommunications company. For the past four years, Ms. Branding has served as Village President (Mayor) of Lake Zurich, after serving two years as Village Trustee.  Ms. Branding and her husband operate Shady Oaks Bed and Breakfast in Lake Zurich. She is a member of the Illinois Bed and Breakfast Association, the Lake Zurich Lions Club, Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce. She is active in her local church, an avid gardener, and a trained master gardener.  


Kathleen Johnson is a 45 year resident of Lake Zurich. She had twenty-three year career in Early Childhood Education in Lake Zurich and Island Lake. For the last 2 years, Ms. Johnson has served as Village Clerk.  She has three adult children who attended May Whitney, Lake Zurich Junior High, and Lake Zurich High schools. She is active in her church and with helping at Emmaus House.


Helmut Gerlach, has lived in Lake Zurich since 2003.  Helmut is a transactional attorney, concentrating in commercial real estate and finance (with extensive background in development, architectural, construction, annexation and municipal transactions), commercial and business law with nearly thirty years of business and legal experience on a local and global level with several clients in the greater Lake Zurich area.  Helmut has served or is currently serving on various association or organization boards or committees for architectural, renovation, planning, financial or legal matters having been instrumentally involved in taking matters from inception through closing.  Helmut and his wife have a 15year old son who is a freshman at Lake Zurich High School. Helmut is involved with the high school’s programs through the “6th Man Club.”  He also actively participates in various charitable organizations including his church and as a volunteer “General Counsel” for Habitat for Humanity. 


Todd Minden has lived or worked in Lake Zurich for 37 years. Mr. Minden, his wife, and their two boys all graduated from Lake Zurich schools. His daughter currently is a sophomore at Lake Zurich High School. Todd has been in corporate management for over twenty years where he supports the national and international marketing efforts for some of the largest and best-known companies in the country. Todd served as a Plan Commissioner in Lake Zurich for six years. He is past President of Whitney Shores Home Owners Association and past President and Director of the LPOA. Todd also is certified by the Center for Creative Leadership, a member of the Direct marketing Association Committee on Environmental and Social Responsibility, a member of the Chicago chapter of Marketing Executives Network Group (MENG). He has been active as both a player and a coach for many area sports teams, including Lake Zurich Flames Football, Ela Soccer and Youth Baseball Association.


Ildiko Schultz is a 23 year resident of Lake Zurich.  Born in Gyor, Hungary, at the age of one, she and her family escaped to the United States after the collapse of the Hungarian revolution. She became a US citizen and has resided in the US ever since. She is an Accounting Director with a major, national insurance company headquartered in Illinois and has extensive leadership and management experience. Ms. Schultz received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern Illinois University, her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management, and holds several insurance and finance related professional designations.  She is an active board member for several insurance industry groups and organizations, and she currently serves on the Lake Zurich Plan Commission.   Ildiko is married and has one son, who also lives in Lake Zurich; 2 stepdaughters, and 6 grandchildren. She and her husband volunteer and participate in year round activities to support Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.


Debra Vander Weit is a 23 year resident of Lake Zurich. Ms. Vander Weit graduated from Elmhurst College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Finance.  Debra has more than 20 years’ experience in the real estate and financial services industries.  Her experience includes conducting due diligence and the underwriting of investments in residential and mixed-use development projects on behalf of institutional investment clients.  Debra also managed a $1 billion portfolio of real estate construction assets and has operations experience in the valuation and acquisition/sale of mortgage portfolios and related securities.  She is an Illinois licensed real estate broker.  She has a 16-year-old son who attends Lake Zurich High School and a 13-year-old daughter who attends Middle School North. Debra is a member of the Lake Zurich and Barrington Chambers of Commerce, the Lake Zurich Chamber Government Affairs Committee, and the Lake Zurich Rotary Club.  She is the past Treasurer of the Lake Zurich Bears Hockey Club.


This new release was submitted by the United Lake Zurich Party. 

Janet Davis January 14, 2013 at 05:41 PM
I find it hilarious that Suzanne branding is running again. Please tell me what she has accomplished in the past four years? Nothing. If she wins the election again, that will be another four years of nothing.
Sandy January 14, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Perhaps the reason little was accomplished is because Tom, Rich and Jeff kept working against her. It's time this Village has a Board that worked together rather than to make the other person look bad.
Say it isn't so January 14, 2013 at 09:22 PM
No lawyers!
Rich Sustich January 15, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Sandy, What specific projects did Suzanne Branding bring forward that Tom, Jeff and I opposed?
Disgruntled January 16, 2013 at 01:03 AM
If Branding loves this town so much, why has she been the primary obstacle in moving the town forward? What has she accomplished? - NOTHING!! Oh, she's wasted tons of money on consultants & then done nothing with it. And she's threatened to cut staff (workers) so we could afford more bureaucrats who also produced nothing. Her state sounds more like the Lake Owners Party.
Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way January 16, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Sandy, my guess is you voted for Obama? Sometimes the people who are representing us have to stand up to the person in charge and say, "No, your ideas are NOT what is best for the people I represent.". There is more to this town than the square footage that surrounds the lake.
Phil Barcini January 16, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Oh, another Rubber Stamp board - but then she wouldn't have anyone to blame. Sandy, I feel so sorry for your wife.
Bill January 16, 2013 at 04:00 AM
Rich, I'm happy to provide an example of something President Branding proposed and you, Tom and Jeff voted against... 12/6/2010 she proposed selling a portion of Paulus Park. Thank you for voting down the misguided ordinance to declare a portion of our public park as surplus property.
Frustramagated January 18, 2013 at 11:52 PM
@Bill Not once but twice. The second occasion was shot down before it got off the ground. It included making the Promenade area a park (or some such thing). That certainly would have helped the TIF, considering parks don't contribute to paying the $28 Million in outstanding debt.
robert January 20, 2013 at 07:43 PM
walk around downtown the village of Lake Zurich what do you see? One closed building after another and they have all been closed for the past 4 years that mayor Branding and the Lake Zurich whatever party have run the village Do we need another 4 years of $500k studies. No, what we need is for Mayor Branding and her cohorts to do is what they do best: run a bed and breakfast The downtown is simply a disgrace
Joe K January 24, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Wow, so many negative comments so much blame. It sounds like Branding is to blame for the credit and mortgage crisis, the death of the housing market, the drop in real estate values, and so much more. Closed buildings and reduced values mean investors don't want to invest to lose money. Searching out new and creative approaches of what to do is the mark of a leader. Doing more of the same is the definition of insanity. When a developer can invest money and make a reasonable return you will see development of the type that fits in Lake Zurich.
Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way January 24, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Joe, have you made any visits to Wauconda’s Main Street over the last 3-4 years? The growth and development of their downtown has been exponential. The death of the housing market and drop in real estate values has not prevented them from developing their downtown, and businesses certainly haven't shied away from there. The same applies to Barrington, but they are on a rail line, which is different. Perhaps it is the business climate in Lake Zurich. Why have Deer Park and Kildeer been able to attract major retailer after major retailer, whilst we sit with vacant building after vacant building along the Rt. 12 corridor? Growth and development is occurring all around Lake Zurich, just not in it. Perhaps some of that searching and creating should have included a phone call to the surrounding Village Halls.
P. St. Helen January 25, 2013 at 12:47 PM
As usual, people look for the easisest target and don't waste their time on actual facts. The past 4 years have been the toughest in recent history - there was only so much that could be done given the tight financial/business environment. But certain members of the board consistently blocked development that could have brought much needed tax revenue. The mayor wants to move the village forward - there is a reason she is working with a new team. She wants to get something done this time. Please check your facts before you make uninformed comments. The corner of 12 and 22 is a perfect example - any other village would have developed it a long time ago with quality retail. and no park facilities would have been lost - just moved to a better location. But certain current board members who think they can run the village just keep putting up roadblocks. Not sure I want to live here if we get a new, unqualified mayor.
Phil Barcini January 26, 2013 at 09:09 PM
P. St. Helen - and that was an attempt to broker a back-door deal totally outside the public view. She did it TWICE!!! Where's your "Open Government"? I find it interesting that you know how good the deal was since it was never even mentioned in public. Property taxes continued to increase annually though most of our pay did not. That does not include the other water rate & tax increases we have seen. We might have some money if we didn't have to hire assistants for everyone and pay consultants for studies that go nowhere. SHE stopped any progress, not any trustees. If you're unsure about living here with a new unqualified mayor, why do you want to live here with an old unqualified mayor?
Frustramagated March 22, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Joe, Branding did create the mortgage crisis. If you know anything about business and watched all the news, developers are looking for opportunities. The downturn provided them an opportunity to explore all sorts of potentials. Branding's "wait & see" - or stall - has put us at the back of the pack when the market does bust loose.
Resident Observer March 23, 2013 at 01:17 AM
P. St. Helen commented: "The corner of 12 and 22 is a perfect example - any other village would have developed it a long time ago with quality retail. and no park facilities would have been lost - just moved to a better location." Yeah, conveniently that better location just happens to be the most valuable property in the TIF and just a stone's throw from Fredzanne's B&B. Coincidence?
Joe K March 23, 2013 at 11:14 PM
And what projects did the board propose that were rejected. It's easy to say nothing was done, all during the great recession. Dropping housing values, a foreclosure crisis coupled with a credit crisis. No developer would move forward, and you say all this is Branding's problem. Next you'll blame her for the Kennedy assassination.
Joe K March 23, 2013 at 11:21 PM
And just who would move into the downtown and open a store? Look at Long Grove, it's downtown is cute, but doesn't support business. If you were a business owner with the opportunity to open a store would you want to locate in downtown LZ or along Rt. 12? Easy answer, RT 12 of course. This is not Field of Dreams if you build it, they may not come...
Joe K March 23, 2013 at 11:25 PM
"Explosive growth" in Wauconda not hardly. Some new bars hardly explosive growth. And you compare Deer Park and Kildeer and say it's business climate... Not hardly, Look at the high-end retail, and look at layout and design. Then look at LZ. Different.
Joe K March 23, 2013 at 11:26 PM
Helen right on!! Phil keeps pointing to obstruction and sees that as progress.
Joe K March 23, 2013 at 11:27 PM
What are you talking about? Were could it be relocated in the TIF? Helen again you are correct.
Resident 225 March 24, 2013 at 01:23 AM
P. St. Helen - you have your facts wrong on the Paulus Park land sale. There are no other parks or land in the Village that could accommodate the park land that would be lost. The residents spoke loud and clear on that back door deal and the Trustees heard, not Suzanne. To quote you..."please check your facts before you make uniformed comments." Suzanne is about as unqualified a mayor as LZ could ever hope to have. I want to work toward not giving her another chance to show us how incompetent she really is.
The Oracle March 24, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Joe - The goal was a land swap. Measure the size of the parcel to be sold to Rohrman ( you know, acres), and dedicate the same size parcel across from the Promenade as Open Space. It's called an off-set. Unfortunately it would not have worked since the Village already owns the land across from the Promenade and making it Open Space would guarantee NO INCREMENT from that property, which otherwise could produce a substantial increment when developed. Thankfully, the Village still has Paulus Park and the land across from the Promenade for development. At least until after the election?????
Resident Observer March 24, 2013 at 02:52 AM
The Oracle has it right, Joe. Word on the street is that even Todd Minden knows the land across from the Promenade needs to be developed and is distancing himself from the rest of the ticket.
Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way March 24, 2013 at 04:47 PM
The residents would be HORRIFIED to discover that the plan for that 12/22 area was to bring a mega-sized car dealership to that corner, a la Arlington Toyota or Grossinger. To replace potential revenue producing parcels in the TIF with park area would be ridiculous and fiscally irresponsible. We do not need another park in that area and it is NOT a better location (unless you live around the lake). We already have Breezwald, the Promenade, and that patch of ridiculousness at Main & Old Rand. The statement "Look at the high-end retail, and look at layout and design" made me laugh. You are exactly correct and it is because of the insular, short sighted decisions made by the people who have lived around the lake. I have lived in this town since 1991 and the reason we do not have what DP and Kildeer have is because the anti-development people didn't want us to "be another Schaumburg", so they stifled growth when they could (have you ever seen a Target as small as ours?) and made it an unfriendly place to do business. Now all we have are a hodgepodge of unattractive strip malls, while our neighbors to the south enjoy the tax revenue that come from thoughtful economic planning
Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way March 24, 2013 at 04:47 PM
What we need is an economic development committee whose purpose is to do nothing but explore new business development opportunities, plan for growth, and market current Lake Zurich businesses. Given our economic struggles, I cannot believe that we do not already have something like this in LZ. Mr. Poynton is the only of the 3 candidates who wants to do this, and therefore I am willing to give him my vote for mayor. I don't call that unqualified, I call that looking toward building a better future for our entire village.


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