Bolingbrook, Illinois – Jackie Traynere, a former staffer for Senator Bernie Sanders, will be running against long-time mayor Roger Claar. Traynere, a small business owner, is currently a board member for Will County as well as The Illinois Women’s Institute For Leadership.
In September 2016, Claar hosted a fundraiser for Donald Trump at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. This caused some protests and subsequently, a slate of candidates now planning to oust the long-time mayor – led by Traynere.
“Bolingbrook United aims to take on the Bolingbrook political establishment in the municipal elections in April and bring a fresh perspective to local government,” stated a news release announcing slate of candidates.
Roger Claar has been the unchallenged mayor of Bolingbrook since 1986. During his tenure, Bolingbrook has turned into a retail and commercial hub. This has enticed large retailers, such as IKEA, to move in.
Despite claims of pay-to-play politics, the mayor credits himself for the steady growth. He also mentioned his firm stance of remaining neutral to businesses with long-time contracts with the city.
“I’m probably tougher on the people that support me. I tell them they can never do anything that puts me in a position where it looks like pay to play.” – said Claar
In 1991, Claar was appointed to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board by then-Gov. Jim Edgar, but then resigned in 2000 following a controversy over him accepting campaign contributions from contractors who got tollway business contracts. Although he resigned, he was never officially charged of any wrongdoing.
Not only has his name appeared in local investigations, but Claar has also appeared in several federal and state investigations. In 2008, a businessman alleged in a federal court filing that he was pressured to donate thousands of dollars to Claar’s campaign and certain charities in order to keep his village contracts, back in 2001.
As a full-time mayor Claar pays himself a hefty salary of $140,102, not including a $6,000 car allowance. He emphasizes that’s less than Bolingbrook paid the village administrator whose job he eliminated.
He also collects two public pensions: $55,757 from his previous career as a school administrator, and $4,532 from his stint on the Illinois Tollway Authority.
Claar said people support him financially because they’re pleased with his leadership – something his more generous donors agree on.
The Chicago Tribune reported, in 2009, that K-Five Construction Corp. has donated $47,500 to Claar’s campaign in the last decade, and VP Jennifer Krug stated there was no pressure to give any.
“He’s done a terrific job being mayor of Bolingbrook.” she said.
In the same 2009 report, The Chicago Tribune also noted that K-Five has received more than $8 million in village business in the last 10 years.
In another recent case in 2014, he allegedly lowered the rent for a local arena complex, citing the high cost of hockey. The rent was supposed to triple as per a past deal but was kept at 1% of the rinks’ gross earnings. Edward Schroeder, owner of the rink, had previously contributed $164,500 since 1999 according to reports.
Schroeder also owns a construction firm, Great Midwest Contracting. It has been paid about $20 million through various village contracts since 2000, according to village records.
Donations and the total value of contracts received (Since 1999)
COMPANY AND RELATED BUSINESSES DONATED RECEIVED:
Crown Recycling ($55,000 / $32.5 million), Naperville Excavating ($15,000 / $13.1 million), James D. Fiala Paving Co. ($23,000 / $10.6 million), Weible & Cahill ($17,000 / $9.6 million), Walsh Landscape Construction ($36,000 / $8.4 million) K-Five Construction ($47,500 / $8 million)
“I don’t hear the criticism, and believe me I’m on the street, as evidenced by the money I spend, I could go home and eat a bologna sandwich every night. But I go out to socialize and eat, I talk to people.” – Roger Claar
There’s even a facebook page dedicated to voting out the long-time mayor – which can be viewed HERE