A pair of familiar faces are hoping to take the top job on the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Board next fall.
Commission members Joe Cantore and Mary Lou Wehrli will face off in the March 18 primary, each Republican hoping to clinch the seat now held by longtime board President D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr., who is stepping down after occupying the position since 1994. No Democrats have filed to oppose the primary winner in the Nov. 4 general election.
A lifelong Naperville resident, Wehrli in December survived a challenge to some of the signatures on her nominating papers to remain on the ballot. She joined the board in 2012, after filling a wide variety of local and regional roles. Her experience in elected office includes six years on the Naperville Park District board, from 1999 to 2005.
Wehrli, 61, is married to Herb Nadelhoffer. In addition to her commissioner duties, she does sales and design work for Wehrli Resources, and property management for Wellstead Management.
Cantore, 42, was elected to the board in 2002. He previously served for four years on the Oakbrook Terrace City Council. He lives in Oak Brook with his wife and the couple’s infant son and works in real estate management, along with his work on the commission.
The winner will see a significant pay raise. Pierotti receives salary and benefits that total $149,577 annually. The base pay for commissioners, whose position is designed to require no fewer than 20 hours per week, is $53,500. Including her benefits, Wehrli receives $74,236 per year. Cantore’s annual pay and benefits total $80,710.
Because the commission presidency comes with considerable power and a substantial paycheck, and because it has been held for a long while by the same individual, The Doings asked both candidates to compare and contrast their management style with Pierotti’s. Here is how they responded.
“My management style is one of inclusiveness. The DuPage Forest Preserve District has always been an organization that other similar minded and missioned organizations have looked to as an example. I want to continue that by taking into consideration the input from commissioners, staff and the public and make decisions that are in the best interests of the people of DuPage County.
“One of the other important components of any successful management style is the ability to build a consensus with the other members of the board. With over 11 years of experience on the commission, I have had the experience of building a consensus with other commissioners on issues dealing with my district and theirs.
“As forest preserve president, I believe I can have a greater impact in accomplishing the district’s mission by helping establish policies and practices that would ensure sustainability for future generations. The mission and vision of the forest preserve district is one that personally resonates. Put simply, I love the forest preserve.”
“My management style differs greatly in that I am a participative leader. I am inclusive. I believe in active listening and informed collaboration. I look to the strengths of each commissioner as we work together to bring cost efficient, desired services to the residents of DuPage County. I actively work to bring partnerships together. I am present. I do not take a pension. I do not make political appointments. I will not put my name on forest preserve signs.”