2021 in Review: Mundelein has heated mayoral race, gas station gets Village Board approval, several events return after pandemic cancellations last year – Chicago Tribune – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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The year 2021 in Mundelein saw celebrations, new faces and controversy all throughout. A new reservoir was unveiled this year and there were three new faces on the Village Board. In addition, village trustees approved variations for a Thornton’s gas station over much opposition from nearby residents.

Mundelein Elementary School District 75and Mundelein High School District 120 returned to in-person instruction full-time. Also, a new equity policy was adopted and a late teacher was honored.

Steve Lentz won his third term as mayor in 2021 after a contentious race saw him pitted against two candidates who, at the time, were village trustees, as well as a member of the Mundelein High School District 120 board.

Former trustees Robin Meier and Dawn Abernathy, along with Tom Ouimet from SD120, ran against Lentz, with all three coming up short. Having not run for trustee, Meier’s and Abernathy’s seats were up for grabs in April. Trustee Ray Semple also did not run for reelection after serving for 26 years. Those three were replaced by Tim Wilson, Jenny Ross and former Village Clerk Sol Cabachuela.

At Mundelein Elementary School District 75, four people ran for four seats. Raymond Rose, Eric Billittier, Freddy Gallegos and Alvin Hitzke essentially ran unopposed, with all making it onto the board.

In Decemeber, trustees approved a series of variations for a Thornton’s gas station in the heart of town, with several residents against the business’ approval.

The owners of the gas station appeared before the Planning and Zoning Commission in March. After more than 100 comments in total against the project and commissioners against all but one of the gas station’s seven requests, officials with Thornton’s pulled the project.

The project came back in an edited form in November, where it got the recommendations for approval that owners wanted. The requests went on to get final approval from the Village Board. But the approval came even as some trustees said they didn’t think they had grounds to vote against it, and they either lost sleep thinking about the requests, or were not necessarily in favor of a gas station being put at the proposed spot.

“What we’re looking to do here is not endorse a convenience store with gas, we’re looking to get the best out of what we’re going to be faced with,” Trustee Kerston Russell said at a November meeting. “I don’t think there’s a board member up here that wants another convenience store … gas station.”

More than 50 people attended the Nov. 17, 2021 Planning and Zoning meeting to voice their opinion about a Thornton's gas station proposal and to get more information.

More than 50 people attended the Nov. 17, 2021 Planning and Zoning meeting to voice their opinion about a Thornton’s gas station proposal and to get more information. (James T. Norman / Pioneer Press)

Like other villages, circumstances around the coronavirus pandemic changed throughout the year. Issue


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