Germantown resident running for trustee, looking for change

Sean McGowan

GERMANTOWN HILLS — Two months after the village clerk debacle, many residents look back and wonder what has become of the community they love.

James O’Laughlin of Germantown Hills includes himself in that group. Having worked alongside former village clerk Ann Sasso for approximately 10 years as part of the planning commission, he disagreed with the Village Board’s decision to fire her.

“She knew everything and she was very good at (her job),” he said.

Because of his disappointment in Mayor Kenny Mitchell and company, O’Laughlin decided to take up the mantle of Village trustee — should the residents choose to elect him. He received approximately 84 signatures on his candidate disclosure form.

“We have to get people in who care more aboutour community,” he said of his decision to run.

Shortly after his retirement from the carpentry business, he received advice on what to do next.

“‘I had a friend who said, ‘Take two or three years and enjoy your retirement,’” he said. “‘And then get involved in your community.’”

O’Laughlin didn’t know what that would mean right away. But after seeing the way the current board operates, he said he made his decision.

“The board has alienated a lot of people with their actions, myself included,” he said.

To cut back on spending, the Board voted to cancel Village employees’ Christmas bonuses in 2011. O’Laughlin did not feel strongly about this incident alone. However, he did think twice after hearing about the Village’s $2,000 TV commercial that came two to three months later.

“I thought, ‘That doesn’t seem right,’” he said.

Following up with a letter, he asked the Village Board why they couldn’t afford Christmas bonuses if they could afford the commercial. He also questioned whether a Village should publicize itself on TV under any circumstances.

“Shouldn’t that kind of thing be left up to businesses?” he said.

O’Laughlin felt the board had tested his patience at that point. But the Sasso firing pushed him beyond what he could bear.

“It was the final nail in the coffin,” he said.

Some of his goals as a Village trustee include improving the local parks and turning the Germantown Hills school building into a community center.    

“I’m always open to talking to people,” he said.

Voting for the local election will take place in April.