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Orland Mayoral Candidate: Dan McLaughlin

Patch logo Patch 2/25/2021 Yasmeen Sheikah
a man wearing a suit and tie: Meet Orland Park mayoral candidate Dan McLaughlin. © One Orland Party Meet Orland Park mayoral candidate Dan McLaughlin.

ORLAND PARK, IL — Dan McLaughlin is seeking to reclaim his former mayoral spot this April, after current Mayor of Orland Park Keith Pekau won the title in April 2017. McLaughlin is currently running with the One Orland Party, against the People Over Politics Party, backed by Pekau.

McLaughlin recently filled out the Patch candidate survey, and his answers can be found below.

If you are a candidate for the April election, and would like to answer our Patch candidate questionnaire, please email yasmeen.sheikah@patch.com.

Dan McLaughlin

Age (as of Election Day)

67

Town/City of Residence

Orland Park

Office Sought

Village board or city council

Party Affiliation (if a partisan race)

One Orland Party

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?

My daughter Bridget McLaughlin Lindbloom is on Orland Park library board.

Education

Proud Brother Rice Crusader and MVCC

Occupation

Executive Director of the Chicagoland AGC for eight years, Executive Director of the Plumbing Contractors Association for twenty-one years, Executive Director of the Plumbing Council of Chicagoland for five years.

Campaign website

www.oneorland.com

Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office

Former Mayor of Orland Park

The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.

Orland Park is a great place to live but we’re straying off track. One of the most pressing concerns to address is public safety so we can get back to work and the normal we used to know before COVID. Orland Park residents care about their families. They want to feel safe and supported in their community – whether that’s navigating the health risks of a pandemic while supporting our local businesses or having resources and having answers about what the village is doing to address common concerns around crime, including knowing their police department is supported and there for every member of the community. I intend to keep public safety at the forefront of my intention to restore Orland Park’s economy post-pandemic by making sure the community is opening businesses and in person activities in a safe manner, enforcing a mask mandate to protect our most vulnerable community members, and supporting our law enforcement and frontline workers at every turn.

Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?

Black lives do matter. Orland Park residents need to know that my top priority is that Orland Park families feel safe. Among other things, this means making sure the police have the resources and support they need to do their jobs. I do not support calls to defund the police – including those in the crime bill passed in a ridiculous manner in Springfield this year. Public safety also means our community absolutely needs to feel assured those same resources are going toward keeping all members of the community safe.

The right to peaceful protest is part of what it means to be an American and the injustice faced by both George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and their families that we saw this summer continues to warrant peaceful protest and productive dialogue to change systems that disproportionately hurt Black Americans and other marginalized communities. Early this year, we also witnessed how partisan and reckless political rhetoric from politicians can enable reckless destruction, violence and disrespect for our country’s institutions. I fully condemn violence to achieve political ends and believe it is counter-productive to achieving meaningful change. My promise is to keep partisan political agendas out of discussions that are so crucial to our residents like the basic idea of public safety and holding people accountable for injustice.

Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?

No. Unfortunately, the current leadership has not done enough to support racial equity. I believe everyone in Orland Park should feel they have the same access to resources and support from public institutions – and I know this mayor and his team unfortunately routinely think they are better than listening to residents’ concerns. I promise to listen to Orland Park residents and hear from them on how we can encourage racial equality and will not stand for hate or discrimination of any kind.

What are your thoughts on the national and local coronavirus response? Do you favor measures such as limiting operation of non-essential businesses and restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a local mask mandate?

Orland Park residents and businesses want to get back to normal. To do that we need to listen to the experts and put measures in place to keep our community safe and cut down the time it takes to get us through this period. I do support a local mask mandate. We need to look and listen closely to our community – parents about how to keep their kids safe in schools, our business owners to understand how to roll out measures that support their needs, and vulnerable communities and caretakers about their unique challenges. Most importantly we need to be ready on day one to begin Orland Park’s economic recovery from this period. The current mayor wasted money on lawsuits, and opened before people were ready to come out and spend money. Holding large outdoor events like concerts in the middle of a pandemic that was sure to keep most people home, was a sure looser and a bad decision. We need a system to move Orland Park forward and through these hard times and keeping families safe and healthy will be my priority throughout.

What are your thoughts on the state and local coronavirus vaccine distribution, and how do you think local governments should work together to handle vaccine rollout?

Local governments should be in close contact with all parties involved in vaccine roll out – from our medical centers and frontline professionals and local leadership teams in neighboring communities about what’s working well and how to maximize the efficient distribution of the vaccine to those who want it, especially our most vulnerable. This highlights why it’s so important for us to have strong relationships with our neighbors, state and county so we can collaborate seamlessly when it matters most for the benefit of Orland Park residents.

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

The current mayor isn’t listening to his constituents. Many residents don’t feel heard on issues that impact their daily lives and living situation, as if he doesn’t think it’s his responsibility to listen to them. He famously uses political bluster and partisan talking points to put himself on the map. Meanwhile, Orland Park gets the short end of the stick – losing money on failed lawsuits, losing opportunities for economic support, and ending up no more open or restricted than any neighboring towns dealing with the pandemic. My team and I care about doing what’s best for Orland Park – so we get the financial support we need to support our local economy and schools, make Orland Park a safe and fun place to raise a family, and run the village with fairness and transparency at every step.

If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)

There has been a serious lack of real economic development causing a huge increase in vacancies throughout Orland Park. If we aren’t constantly attracting new and desirable businesses then we are falling behind. In addition, my opponent has no plans to address the development of the I-80 Corridor or the downtown, both of which are great opportunities to diversify our dependence on retail sales. Residents are frustrated that those projects are not complete and want to hear plans and solutions now. I also believe my opponent squandered an opportunity to improve the safety and negative perception of Orland Square when an $8.5 million incentive was offered with no strings attached. Residents have asked for solutions but my opponent shoves off responsibility on local issues like this. A number of solutions could be on the table - cameras at every entrance, a youth chaperone policy and curfew, for example, but the starting place should be bringing together community members and our law enforcement to hear concerns and talk through solutions so everyone can get on board.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform

Above all, our team wants to provide this community with united leadership that listens and responds to its residents, promotes transparency, and is focused on solving problems. That means putting public safety first with strong support for our police, prioritizing our economic recovery by creating incentive programs for small businesses and reinstating development of our community, and rooting out corruption and increasing transparency in Orland Park.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

In the 24 years I served as mayor, we brought in countless businesses and $700 million in infrastructure and municipal buildings to better serve our citizens – including a new police station. We provided spaces for families like numerous parks and the Centennial Park Aquatic Center. We balanced the budget all 24 years while rebating almost $40 million to our citizens and building our reserve (rainy day) fund to almost $30 million. We gave residents money back almost every year I was in office (with the exception of the difficult years we faced during the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009).

If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success?

My priority is to really hear residents’ concerns and address them straight on. In my many conversations with residents in the lead up to my decision to run for mayor, a number are a clear priority for them and therefore for me including:

-Getting us through this pandemic period by supporting small business and ensuring health and safety is prioritized in every step of re-opening up our economy and community.

-Completing the downtown development into a pedestrian friendly mixed-use development that our residents can be proud of and visit regularly.

-Continuing to build on my record supporting our Orland Park police department so they have the resources they need to do their job and our residents feel confident and safe.

-Improving the safety and image of Orland Square shopping center, reducing our commercial vacancy rate and getting the I-80 corridor development back on track.

-Having an open and inclusive policy at town hall so voters can both be heard and feel they have answers to their concerns.

Why should voters trust you?

Voters should trust me only if I work every day to earn and keep their trust. I promise to work to do that, and I hope voters will keep me accountable. For the voters who knew me in the past as their mayor, I hope they saw me as both a mayor and a neighbor; as a mayor that brought positive changes to Orland Park like new and improved roads and numerous new services and opportunities like the Sportsplex and and Fitness Center. And grew the economy to keep our taxes one of the lowest in the area. As mayor I prioritized making sure Orland Park was one of the safest communities in Illinois. I am proud to have grown our police department from 23 officers to 99, built a new high tech police station, and supported our police with the newest equipment and training. I am not a partisan politician. I only want to bring whatever good ideas and policies will help Orland Park grow and my track records speaks to that. I look forward to continuing to build trust with all Orland Park residents so they know exactly who is representing their interests at townhall.

What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the use of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?

A balanced budget is a must, keeping strong fund balances in all of the individual funds and work to maintain or improve the strong credit rating I was able to achieve.

Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?

No

The best advice ever shared with me was:

Words from my father “Always leave a place better than you found it.”

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

I love Orland Park. The One Orland team is in this race to put Orland Park first. I am running because Orland Park is on the wrong track and I want to help. Many members of the community are uncomfortable with how the current mayor fails to address their concerns while posturing for his own self-interest. I want to use my experience together with a new generation of leaders to move Orland Park forward. I will bring back respect and open dialogue in our politics, and prioritize public safety, economic growth, and fairness and integrity at Village Hall. There’s been a lot of negative campaigning in Orland Park in the past 4 years and not much progress to show for it. We have soured our neighbors’ impressions of us and created an exclusive and closed off environment between the mayor’s office and his constituents. That’s not the Orland Park I know, and I am committed to uniting Orland Park with an inclusive and transparent team at village hall focusing on solutions to local issues that the community is facing in their day to day lives.

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