Trustee Rich Sustich will not seek re-election to the Lake Zurich village board in April. Sustich said he decided not to run for very personal and family reasons.
“I consider to be a good trustee is almost a full-time job in order to understand what is going on in the village,” Sustich said.
“A lot of people have the impression that you just show up on Monday and vote on things. (Tom) Poynton and I were there during the day talking to staff and looking at issues,” he said.
Sustich said he will be supporting Poynton’s bid as an independent for village president. Poynton faces current Village President Suzanne Branding and independent candidate Mary Black.
“We need somebody who will lead from the center. We need the village president as not just a ceremonial position; the president needs to be active,” he said.
Sustich said he plans to continue to be active in the village.
“I enjoyed being a trustee immensely. If not for personal issues, I would certainly be running again,” he said.
Sustich has been in the public sector for more than 30 years and served as a manager for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. He believes his experience helped him be an informed member of the village board.
“From a management standpoint, I have the experience. It was almost refreshing to come in and say 'I know how to do that,'” he said.
Sustich points to the village’s strategic plan as one of the accomplishments he helped push for, although he said the village is not following the plan.
Sustich said the village needs to realize, with the budget deficit, that the village can not do everything.
“You have to think strategically,” he said. He noted that the village’s Capital Improvement Plan, which was recently approved, is the first time the expenditures were aligned with the priorities of the village.
He explained that the top priorities for the village are: public, health and safety; protection of public and private assets; and things required by law.
“Things that are nice to have come next, but if you don’t have the money, it has to be eliminated from the next budget,” he said.
In the coming months, Sustich wants to accomplish a sustainable budget.
“That’s the most important thing I can contribute. It will outlast me,” he said.
Sustich is proud that the village is funding its pensions.
“Lake Zurich has become one of the few communities that takes its commitment to public employees’ pensions seriously. We are doing what the law says we are supposed to do. It’s not only the legal thing to do, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Sustich will stay involved in the village after April.
“Even if I’m not an elected official, it doesn’t mean I get Monday nights to watch football,” he said.