Is McLaughlin eying fulltime job as Orland Park mayor?

Orland Park Dan McLaughlin is considering switching from a part-time mayor to a full-time mayor to take a more hands-on control of the continued development of the village which has doubled in population during his two decades as the chief executive officer. What would that require?

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

The decision by District 135 President Joe La Margo to resign and take a fulltime $116,000-a-year position as the assistant village manager in Orland Park is not just about the local schools.

It could be the beginning of bigger changes to strengthen and consolidate government in Orland Park.

Several sources have told me they believe Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin will move from being a part-time mayor with an outside job to a full-time mayor focused on shepherding his long-term vision for the village.

Although Mayor McLaughlin did not respond to my inquiries, several sources said McLaughlin has told them and others he plans to make the move. How soon is unknown.

“He said he wants to focus all his energies on continuing the building of Orland Park and the best way to do that would be to become the fulltime mayor,” one Orland Park businessman told me.

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin

Another source who said the mayor has discussed the move, said it would allow the mayor to personally direct the implementation and or completion of numerous programs and ideas now being implemented or are being considered for the village for the future.

“McLaughlin was made for this job and he should just do it,” another source said.

When I get a chance to interview him, I’ll see if he wants to open up or if he has made any decisions. But in the meantime, the tealeaves seem to be pretty clear about what choices stand before him.

To become a fulltime mayor, the village will have to change its charter. It is uncertain how the move will impact his current position as the influential Executive Director of the powerful Builders Association that he has held for just over two years.

Voters approved Orland as a Village Manager (Managerial) form of government in the Nov. 8, 1983 election, the same year McLaughlin was elected to the board of trustees. He was elected mayor in 1993.

Orland Park is a Village Manager community. In other words, policies are proposed by a part-time mayor, reviewed and approved by a part-time village board, and implemented by a Village Manager and his staff, including now the deputy Village Manager.

The current village manager is Paul Grimes, who has been in his position supervising the implementation of McLaughlin’s vision for the village for the past eight years. La Margo, who previously served as the village deputy clerk, began work as the deputy village manager in July, with Grimes. The two are close and would work together well.

I covered McLaughlin’s 1983 election and recognized then that he had great vision and talent as a community leader and activist. As mayor he has implemented a wide range of successful programs that have helped make Orland Park one of the best communities in the Chicagoland suburbs.

The Orland Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of programs. This from the recent Arts Fair

The Orland Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of programs. This from the recent Arts Fair

It hasn’t helped that Orland Park has the worst public relations of any major suburban Chicagoland community. I say “worse” not in terms of being plagued by negative stories, but rather by the absence of effective PR. Orland Park and McLaughlin have the positive stories. They just don’t get outside of a very narrow circle.

The truth is Orland Park is far better than Naperville, but Orland Park has never managed to position itself at the same light as Naperville, which is the darling of the Chicago media because of effective and constant PR Spin.

That poor PR has held both Orland Park and McLaughlin back from higher ambitions and recognition.

Orland Park has achieved far more than Naperville and McLaughlin is as good or even better than Naperville’s beloved former chief executive, Arthur George Pradel. McLaughlin has served as mayor longer than Pradel, and yet Pradel has always received more accolades.

Band plays at the Orland Park Library, ranked one of the best libraries in the Midwest

Band plays at the Orland Park Library, ranked one of the best libraries in the Midwest

McLaughlin made his mark as a village trustee when he directed the modernization of the Orland Park Police Department. He introduced the D.A.R.E. program to the district’s schools.

But his greatest achievements have been as Orland Park’s mayor.

McLaughlin is a respected member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Southwest Conference of Mayors, Illinois Municipal League and the South Suburban Mayors and Managers. And he currently serves on the Regional Water Supply Planning Group, recently serving as Chairman of a state-wide task force studying a Uniform State Building Code.

Under McLaughlin’s administration the village of Orland Park has made considerable improvements in recreational programs and facilities and community events.

Orland Park hosts the best fireworks display each year during its annual 4th of July celebration

Orland Park hosts the best fireworks display each year during its annual 4th of July celebration

Under his leadership, the Village has implemented creative solutions to road improvements to ease traffic congestion. The village is undergoing one of the largest road improvement programs involving the widening of La Grange Road, one of the most trafficked roads of any municipality in Northern Illinois.

He hasn’t given up on the Police Department and has improved public safety with a larger Police Department, new police station and increased training and technology.

McLaughlin also has developed a unique program to protect the region’s environment, directing a nationally recognized $25 million “Open Lands Program,” as well as implementing community arts and developing the village’s Green Initiative.

Orland Park’s numerous community improvement programs have won numerous awards, resulting in being named recently as one of America’s most livable cities by Money Magazine.

Orland Park Police Department

Orland Park Police Department

The conversion from part-time to full-time mayor does not necessarily mean that the village would eliminate the position of Village Manager, but it could mean that the position would be changed to chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.

But McLaughlin has probably given up on his personal ambition to seek higher statewide office, but he has not given up on Orland Park.

You can get more information on McLaughlin from his own website at or from the village website at

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. He is a columnist with the Palos Reporter, the Regional News, Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News. Email him at [email protected].)

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star of Lebanon, the News of the World in London, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, The Saudi Gazette, the Arab News in Jeddah, and Aramco Magazine.

Hanania's Chicagoland columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter newspapers.

He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]