Politics & Government

Swansea’s mayoral candidates see eye to eye on many issues

Swansea Treasurer Michael Leopold (left) is challenging current Swansea Mayor Ken Mueller (right), who is running for re-election in the April 4 election.
Swansea Treasurer Michael Leopold (left) is challenging current Swansea Mayor Ken Mueller (right), who is running for re-election in the April 4 election.

The two candidates for mayor of Swansea have different priorities for the village, one focused on structural and process improvement and the other seeking to curb spending, but both agree that listening is key.

Incumbent Mayor Ken Mueller and Michael Leopold, who is the current village treasurer, face each other in the April 4 election.

Mueller, 74, cited his experience in public office not only as mayor but also a decade as a Swansea trustee and four years each as mayor of Red Bud and an alderman.

“My political experience is reflected in the positive progress of Swansea in the last four years,” Mueller said.

Though the village doesn’t require that the mayor be available to the public 40 hours or more per week, Mueller makes being in the office a priority. “This is a part-time job but I’m here every day and I love doing it,” he said. “I always believed in service before self.”

Leopold, 66, highlighted his financial expertise as an investment counselor as a reason why people should vote for him.

“As treasurer, I have inside knowledge of the financial status of Swansea,” Leopold said. “We have been on a spending spree.”

Leopold talked about the importance of maintaining a budget and making money-saving decisions. “I will stop the spending,” he said. “I will be that guy.”

Both candidates spoke about the importance of listening to the public.

My political experience is reflected in the positive progress of Swansea in the last four years.

Incumbent Mayor Ken Mueller

“You have to get out and listen to understand what’s going on,” Mueller said, noting that businesses owners have seen marked improvements because of his tenure.

“Listening to developers and franchise owners, they said that Swansea wasn’t business-friendly,” Mueller said. “We have improved the processes for businesses because of their feedback. There’s a lot of interest in development now.”

As treasurer, Leopold doesn’t have a vote at village board meetings, and listening is what he does.

“It’s hard for me to sit there and see things that I think need to be changed but be unable to cast a vote,” he said.

As mayor, Leopold said he would seek to resolve an ongoing dispute with St. Clair Township over sewer charges.

“The first thing that I would do is end the foolish lawsuit that we have with the township over the sewer plant,” he said. “Swansea would have saved tons of money if we could have figured something out years ago.”

Mueller said that Swansea has a lot to admire. “We have a dedicated ambulance service here that answers over 100 calls a month. It is paid for by the people who use its services. That was something I did and it has proven to be great.”

The first thing that I would do is end the foolish lawsuit that we have with the township over the sewer plant.

Treasurer Mike Leopold

Mueller said he wants to see more retail development. “I evaluate where we are and then where we want to be. I’m into improving processes,” he said.

Leopold also favors more Swansea development. “We need more retail and the sales tax that it brings,” he said.

On a lighter note, Leopold had something to say about the recent decision to allow chickens in the village. “We have bigger fish to fry than chicken to fry,” he quipped, adding that he will pay attention to Swansea’s bottom line. “Over the past few years, we’ve bought buildings, land, properties and trucks. These are costly not only to acquire but also to maintain.”

The candidates expressed their opinions about the Illinois 911 call center consolidation mandate.

“I have addressed this issue to the governor in person and in two separate emails,” Mueller said. “He says its going to save money and improve response time, but that’s bogus.”

Mueller talked about finding ways to fulfill the mandate but also preserve the services and quick response time that the people of Swansea have come to expect. “Illinois used a one-size-fits-all solution for the whole state and it hurt smaller communities like ours,” he said.

Leopold also voiced dissatisfaction with the mandate. “There’s not a lot we can do except to cut the best deal with the city of Belleville that we can.”

Leopold believes creative methods exist for cost-saving. “It doesn’t have to be Swansea versus the world,” he said. “I don’t believe any problem is insurmountable.”

Other mayoral elections

Swansea’s is one of 17 contests for mayor or village president on the ballot April 4 in the metro-east. The others are:

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