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Wellinghorst Reflects on Time as Councilman

The attorney attended his last meeting as a council member July 1.

[Editor's note: The following article was published on March 14, 2012, prior to the May 8 election. Wellinghorst and Mayor Keith Killion held court for the last time on July 1 at the .]

He almost threw his hat into the ring again.

Ultimately though, Ridgewood Councilman Steve Wellinghorst said he just couldn't give the time needed to properly .

As such, he'll continue to serve until his term expires at the end of June and witness a newcomer be sworn in.

Wellinghorst, an attorney who , greatly enjoyed interacting with people in town and said he felt things were chugging along briskly. 

"I've got a lot going on at work and I've got two little girls I don't get to see as much as I'd want," he said, explaining he felt the village deserves a leader that can invest more time to municipal matters.

Still, the councilman feels much was accomplished during his tenure, pointing to movement in , and .

"Even in some of our darkest days, like during the , we learned from things and we put in place some policies and procedures that will hopefully alleviate that from happening again," Wellinghorst said.

A liaison to the Shade Tree Committee, the councilman said even after his term has expired he has plans to help develop a new policy, one he feels is necessary .

'No other conclusion' on Valley

Although he and his fellow council members were clear on their stance on Valley Hospital, unanimously voting down an ordinance to allow a large expansion, he concedes the issue is not over.

"It will definitely be a future consideration for future councils," Wellinghorst, who was (CRR) in 2010, said.

Though the current council , it has not been rescinded and a future body could reverse the decision.

"I think all of us agree the hospital needs to modernize but I think under the circumstances presented, after all the evidence was shared, there was no other conclusion we could come to."

A hot-button topic for sure, Wellinghorst said Valley isn't all that weighs on the minds of residents.

Tax man or axe man to call

"One of my reasons for running was ," he said. "We pay more than we should in this town, that's my opinion."

In 2011, his year voting on a budget, as the village aimed to bring back services it had cut in 2010. Initial projections for 2012 .

Wellinghorst defended the rising municipal portion, saying it's largely locked up in salaries that the council has limited control over.

Citizens may be reticent to discussing it and anger can quell, but benefit packages are just too high across all levels of government, he said.

"The dirty little secret is that it's unsustainable to continue the way we're going whether it's local, state or federal government. You can't keep borrowing to pay for something. Sooner or later, the tax man or the axe man is going to come calling."

At the end of the day, he said, is the genesis of the Ridgewood tax problem, not .

" is an awful lot of money to educate our kids and if we can't get it done for that and it keeps going up, maybe we should bring in people that can look at it a different way," he said.

The school board has unveiled a budget with a 2 percent tax increase for the second straight year.

Who is Wellinghorst voting for?

Though he won't be running for re-election, Wellinghorst said he knows at least two check marks on his ballot in May.

"I will definitely be voting for [Mayor] Keith Killion on election day," he said, telling Patch Killion's "only" aspirations are serving the village as best he can.

"I am very pleased with Paul Aronsohn," he added. "Even though we don't see eye-to-eye on all the issues, we saw eye-to-eye on enough of them to where I consider him a good leader for the town."

As for the other candidates – , , and Russell Forenza?

"I'm not going to comment on anybody else," he said. "I was very proud to work with Keith and Paul and I am looking forward to them continuing their efforts after the election."

Voters head to the polls on May 8 to determine three seats. Members serve four-year terms. Elected members are sworn in July 1.

Dominick Nizza March 14, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Boyd, "What are we doing wrong"? Perhaps, a closer look at the #5 "Graydon Historic Preservation" line on the budget agenda for the 5:00 pm Council meeting tonight might be a clue. Is there a line item cost to the Village on this? What is it, why is it? Perhaps, the annual loss of over $108,000 might be a factor and its questionable future liabilty ($10,000,000 jury verdict) costs might be a factor. Something is cloudy in the murky waters of budget preparation, don't you think? .
Dominick Nizza March 14, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I'm looking forward to meeting all the Council Candidates at this daytime Budget approval meeting. Perhaps, they might comment on the agenda items? This meeting will probably be my last annual meeting quota to attend any. It should be fun.
Joe March 14, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Good riddance.
RdgwdGRock March 14, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Steve Wellinghorst, don't let the door hit ya on the way out. Good riddance. Your next job s/b in charge of an aquarium, since sharks provide prof courtesy to lawyers
Dominick Nizza March 14, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Judge Wellinghorst, as well as other lawyers that sat on the Council, often get caught up in time restraints of their personal job. He did however, give some helpful good advice, "if the public doesn't like what any Councilman is doing, you have the power to vote us out".. Unfortunately, it takes three years to do it for some. Perhaps, we can still call upon you for advisory counsel.. Stay well Judge.. Dom.
RdgwdGRock March 14, 2012 at 05:23 PM
"if the public doesn't like what any Councilman is doing, you have the power to vote us out" is a somewhat obvious response that demonstrates a lack of consideration for the public mood.
jp1 March 14, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Glad he is gone, take Gabbert with you.
RdgwdGRock March 14, 2012 at 08:13 PM
agreed; Gabbert's will be gone as well
Long Time Resident March 15, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Ditto to Gabbert being fired and for that to happen Killion MUST not be relected!
Geno Malone April 05, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Wellinghorst stepped up when needed and did a job that needed doing. He sacrificed for the community and did what he was elected to do. Ridgewood should be thanking him, I for one appreciate what he did and whether I agree with all he did or not, his willingness to try and the fact that he stepped forward when so many didn't is very admirable. So Thank you Steve!

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