Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
ELGIN — Dave Kaptain took the helm of the city council Wednesday evening as he was sworn in as Elgin’s mayor.
And he’s going to be making house calls.
Kaptain revealed that detail during in his inaugural address.
“The people run the government,” Kaptain said.
The plan will be for the new mayor and city manager to visit homes throughout Elgin to talk to neighbors about the city government. Kaptain said he learned along the campaign trail that “residents need to learn how their government works.” In light of the low turnout at the polls, where less than 15 percent of registered voters took ballots, he hopes the gatherings will get more people engaged in the process.
Kaptain’s idea to make house calls is consistent with the grass roots campaign he ran. He told a packed house there to witness his being sworn in that he had 50 volunteers working toward his election, and 20 of them, including his wife, Sandy, helped walk the streets, knocking on doors. He guessed his crew talked to about 5,000 residents.
Their efforts paid off with Kaptain, a veteran councilman, beating three-term incumbent Ed Schock by a vote total of 3,925 to 3,297.
“It was an honor to walk among you,” Kaptain said.
Kaptain told the crowd that when he was 18 and cocky, he had a job as a laborer. On the first day at work, he was paired with an older man.
“He was probably 40,” Kaptain said with a laugh.
At lunch break, the man gave Kaptain advice on how to shovel better, as he apparently had a lot of clay stuck on his tool.
“That taught me two things. That you can learn something from everyone. And that what you do impacts everyone,” Kaptain said.
The building on which Kaptain was working is what is now city hall.
Also sworn into office Wednesday were incumbent council member John Steffen and rookies Anna Moeller and Tish Powell.
Powell thanked her son, Kyle, for spending the evening of his fifth birthday at the council session instead of at Chuck E. Cheese’s celebrating.
What most impressed Powell about her successful run was “the love people have for Elgin.” She also noted she had fun on the campaign trail with fellow newcomer Moeller.
Moeller noted that her experience running for council showed her the community support and activism there is in the city. She noted that Elgin will be facing financial challenges and tough decisions to make about those in the near future. That spirit will be needed to help the city make those hard choices, she said.
Steffen thanked outgoing Councilman Mike Warren, whom Steffen said was similar to him as they both balanced family life, careers and service to the city. Steffen also complimented Schock for bringing direction and focus to the city council.
Of his new colleagues, “There will be no learning curve for these two,” Steffen said.