The village of Plainfield has a new mayor as of Monday after John Argoudelis was sworn in to lead the municipality of about 44,000 residents.
Argoudelis won about 53% of the vote in the April 6 election against outgoing Village Trustee Margie Bonuchi. He succeeds outgoing Mayor Michael Collins.
The leadership change comes after a sometimes contentious campaign, but Argoudelis attempted to strike a more agreeable tone in his opening remarks as the new mayor.
“This is my hometown,” he said. “I grew up here and I care very deeply about the wellbeing of our village. I care deeply about the residents and I believe that going forward, there is so much opportunity to make the best Plainfield.”
The new mayor takes over at a time when the village is looking to bounce back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Village Board recently approved new residential developments in hopes of attracting more residents and is in the process of planning for a major extension of 143rd Street which officials say will alleviate traffic in main roadways.
Argoudelis also begins his tenure in the unusual position of being in the middle of a legal dispute with the village dating back to 2018. The issue came up during the campaign when Bonuchi accused him of “not paying his bill” to the village. The village took legal action against him alleging he did not keep his law office, located on Route 59 in Plainfield, up to code.
Even though Argoudelis said he felt the village and fire department made him take measures which were unnecessary for a 2,000 square-foot building, he said he complied and spent about $15,000 for a smoke alarm system.
Last week, Collins said the Village Board voted unanimously to hire an outside law firm, Ekl, Williams, & Provenzale, LLC, to continue handling the case, instead of village attorneys. The outgoing mayor added the village has reached out to Argoudelis to reach a settlement.
Argoudelis said he’s never been approached about a settlement and added he’s confident the judge hearing the case will rule he does not owe the village money.
Despite that issue, and the outgoing mayor’s support for Bonuchi, Argoudelis said he’s reached out to the other village trustees about the work ahead of them, regardless of whom they supported.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Argoudelis told The Herald-News before Monday’s meeting. “We have to work together.”
For his part, Collins gave an emotional farewell address recognizing several village officials whom he’s worked with during his time in office.
Collins was first elected mayor in 2009. He had served as a trustee from 1999 through 2007. He also served on the Plainfield Fire Protection District Board from 1989 to 1999.
He also appeared to take a parting shot at Argoudelis for his criticism of the outgoing village leadership.
“Some individuals have recently stated that nothing has been done and accomplished in 12 years,” Collins said. “It’s a statement I find insulting.”
Argoudelis later acknowledged that “a lot has been done” in the village but added that he thought “we could do so much more.”
Before becoming an elected official, Collins served in the Air Force and as a Plainfield police officer, then worked for the Illinois State Police for nearly 30 years.
Bonuchi praised Collins during her own final comments and thanked him for his service. Her term on the board ended Monday as well.
She was first elected to the Village Board in 2009 and also works as Plainfield School District 202′s technology administrator.
Trustees Cally Larson and Patricia Kalkanis were also sworn in for another term on the Village Board, along with Tom Ruane.