Four-way race for three Richmond Village Board seats

Trustee appointed to seat in 2022 runs to retain the spot

Richmond Village Board Candidates, from left, James Gerasco, Robert Elliott, and Ron Kay.

Growth, traffic and what sales tax dollars from a marijuana dispensary could mean for both were among the top priorities for the five candidates for the Richmond Village Board.

Four candidates, including incumbents Robert Elliott and Frank Peiler and newcomers Ron Kay and Adam Metz, are seeking three open four-year terms at the April 4 elections.

James Gerasco is running for a two-year seat. He was appointed to the board in March 2022 after board member T.J. Fulmer, moved out of the village.

All of the candidates said Richmond should embrace potential business growth but in a way that retains the village’s character.

“I don’t want it to become [a village]) where we can’t expand” due to restrictive zoning, Gerasco said.

Bringing new business into town is his No. 1 priority, Peiler said.

“We are trying to change from the village of yesterday to something that is a little more progressive,” Peiler said.

Richmond is never going to be a “huge village,” Elliott said, but it has added amenities for residents and should do more.

“We have four parks in town, and we want to add some assets to it,” Elliott said. “We want to make parks that are destinations for young people with kids and old people” without it leaning one way or the other.

The Village Board needs to ensure its funds – including the sales tax brought in by the planned marijuana dispensary – is allocated properly for roads, parks and other community needs, Metz said.

Gerasco said he wants to see any taxes from the dispensary go into the general fund, but said Richmond can’t spend those monies before they get it.

“It is truly too hard to tell as of now. It may do good or it may shut down in six months. It is hard to see so far into the future,” Gerasco said.

Residents are concerned about the potential for growth, too, Kay said. As he’s met with voters, that is one thing they have brought up.

“They moved to Richmond to get away from growth,” Kay said. “You are never going to get away from growth. It is a matter of how you manage it.”

If Richmond does continue to grow, Kay said, “then we have to have our infrastructure in place” first.

That infrastructure may need to include working with the Illinois Department of Transportation for changes to Route 12, several candidates said.

There are things in the works now for the area of Burlington Road, Route 12 and Swallow Ridge Drive, Elliott said.

Concerns were raised in August when marijuana dispensary developer Zachary Zises proposed locating his business at that corner. Residents said they wanted to see lights or traffic improvements before a dispensary.

Village President Toni Wardanian said then that while IDOT determined that the intersection needed improvement in the early 2010s, it is low on the agency’s priority list.

“We are working with IDOT to reconfigure and to improve the safety there,” Elliott said. “We can work with IDOT to improve Route 12.”

Sidewalks also are a priority for Gerasco, Elliott, Peiler and Metz.

Metz said he’d also like to see the village work with IDOT on, potentially, a temporary traffic light for the peak summer months at Broadway Street and Route 12.

Weekend traffic as residents head through Richmond on their way to Lake Geneva, as well as commuters, “cause problems for people getting to the shops and restaurants in downtown Richmond,” Metz said.