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Salem Lakes Hires New Village Administrator

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Cassandra Hiller
(LinkedIn)

The Salem Lakes Village Board unanimously appointed Cassandra Hiller as its next Village Administrator.  The appointment was made at a special meeting on October 17, 2023.  A native of Johnsburg, Illinois, Hiller currently serves as an Assistant County Administrator for Lake County, Illinois.  

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“Cassandra emerged as the Village’s top choice from a very competitive field of candidates,” according to Village Board President Rita Bucur.  “I am very excited to have her on board. Cassandra has had a wide range of experiences that will benefit residents of Salem Lakes.  Having grown up in Johnsburg, and spending time in our area enjoying recreational activities, she is familiar with our community. Her passion to work here was evident during her interviews.  I was pleased to see the Board approve her contract with a unanimous vote; we are off to a strong start on this new chapter.”

After the meeting Hiller expressed her enthusiasm for the position stating, “I am truly honored to have the opportunity to lead the Village of Salem Lakes and to collaborate with its talented team of staff and village board trustees. The village has so much potential, and it is truly a unique and special opportunity to lead the newest village in the state of Wisconsin. I am excited to bring my rural farm upbringing and 24 years of diverse government work experience to Salem Lakes.”

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Prior to working in Lake County, Hiller served as the City Administrator and Economic Development Director in Brainerd, Minnesota from 2017 to 2019.  She was a Senior Scientific Policy Advisor for the Officer of the Governor in North Dakota from 2016 to 2017.  Prior to that she served as the Environmental Section Leader for the North Dakota Department of Transportation from 2013 to 2017.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and her Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of North Dakota.


Hiller’s contract calls for an annual salary of $145,000.  Her first day of work will be December 1st.  She will take over from Dave Bretl, a principal in the consulting firm of Public Administration Associates, LLC, who has been serving as the Village’s interim administrator since late July.

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67 Responses

  1. Great news, the village needs to move forward. This girl power is getting contagious in Kenosha County, that’s a good thing IMO. Congratulations.

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    1. So she’s the right fit bc she’s a girl?? That’s the WORST reason to choose someone. How about someone who wants to cut spending, be smart and do what’s right…

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    2. Man. Woman. Gender isn’t important here. Qualifications of the applicant, along with their vision for our community is what matters. Gender, race, age are secondary.

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    3. Amazing how many down votes, I guess the downers votes don’t like women. Here’s a thought, maybe balanced representation is better government?

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      1. Ooh, the sexist card. Most people want an employee hired because of qualifications, not gender. It’s actually that simple.

  2. Wish Pleasant Prairie would/could move forward with new leadership other than Steinbrink and Pollocoff . It’s time to move past these partners in backroom deals.

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      1. Yeah, nobody ran against papa Steinbrink. Two decent board members were replaced by two decent board members so nothing has really changed. To effectuate change, the right two board members need to be elected. As I said, nobody ran for village president.

    1. Remember that when Spring elections roll around.. help get your chosen candidate elected. It’s difficult to beat an incumbent. People don’t pay attention to local politics.

  3. She’s from the Lake County swamp, voting for Equity and Inclusion, wants to go green and wants to build up highway C. Our budget cap was $140k and we went over why?? Bc she made near $190k at Lake Co. Where are we pulling the money from to afford her and how long before she demands $200k?! I don’t trust her at ALL.
    Disappointed in the Board for approving her and her DEI strategies.

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  4. Why not hire from Lake County where the property taxes are outrageous? $10 says a Walmart will appear somewhere along the HWY 50 corridor very soon. Trying so hard to be Lake Geneva but you can’t.

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    1. There already is a Walmart in Antioch, Somers and Gurnee along with the one in Lake Geneva. I think they are saturated enough in our area.
      Whether you drive east, south or west you can shop at just about any kind of place in 15 to 20 minutes. I doubt that any big box retailers will consider the Paddock Lake corridor enticing enough much less the lesser Highway C & 83 area in Salem. I think we need to concentrate on more lite industrial such as the relatively newer business park in Trevor. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs !!!
      Maybe bring back for consideration the ice rink / recreation center that was talked about a few years ago. That type of place is considered a “destination business” that Will draw people to our area. A little money there for local bars and restaurants during scheduled events.
      The one caveat is that recreation centers don’t really turn much of a profit. Though there are professional companies that can run those type of centers for you. There is one out of Canada that has had some success doing that.
      Salem “Lakes” is a lower middle class residential bedroom community with plenty of people available to work locally at $40,000. to $60,000. a year jobs.
      First Understand who we are, then plan to service us.
      We will never compete with Lake Geneva.
      And why should we ??

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    2. Lake Geneva is a Walmart, a few shitty bars and restaurants, and the Grand Geneva.

      I mean, there is little reason to really go out there unless you are on the lake….

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  5. I voted for new conservative board members in order to push this village in a conservative direction. This person has worked many yrs in Democrat-run IL govt so it makes me wonder: will she be infusing liberal Ideology into her decion-making here? We will be watching.

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    1. Common sense is the reality check that running a local government is NOT an ideological battle. It’s doing what’s best for the community. That means coming together to do the right thing.

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      1. And you are either blind or naive to think liberal ideology is not what is responsible for rampant crime that goes unpunished, govt corruption without accountability and govt budgets in the red in a majority of America’s towns, villages and cities run by Democrat politicians/Administrators. Also, if you think doing “what is best for a community” has nothing to do with ideology, I don’t know what to tell you.

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  6. I can’t believe this is the direction we’re going. We’re paying over budget already for someone we know nothing about and has not proven herself. Nobody cares what your experience is, if you can’t earn the trust of the people you are worth $0

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  7. I can’t believe this is the direction we’re going. We’re paying over budget already for someone we know nothing about and has not proven herself. Nobody cares what your experience is, if you can’t earn the trust of the people you are worth $0.

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  8. I have to tell you I am very disappointed by some of these comments. To think we are going to prejudge someone on the state they come from or their sex is crazy. How some can judge by that is very disappointing that we have come to this in our society. How did we get so divided? I wish her the best. Like the new board she will have a mess to deal with and many don’t have a clue of the magnitude of the situation. After a year we can all judge and if she doesn’t work out then the board must act accordingly. And if they don’t then next election the people can speak. That’s how a democracy is supposed to work. Murdock didn’t set the bar very high. I have trust in this board’s decision. After all, we don’t know the specifics. VOSL let’s not embarrass ourselves and look like a bunch of sexist clowns. Let’s see what happens.

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    1. I agree that one should not assume someone is a great choice merely based on their gender. We should select the best for the job.
      Also, the greatest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Her past behavior is not very promising. I’ve been reading minuets from many of the LC meetings she was a part of and our future looks grim if she doesn’t turn her ideologies around.

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  9. Now that we have a new administrator it’s time to remove the chief and fire inspector as they still are creating turmoil with the business due to their police state tactics even the firefighters have no confidence in their leadership.

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    1. The board knew that going into this and it costs us money to put together the hiring process. I would like to think that it was a consideration in hiring. We’re already overpaying and if it doesn’t go well then we’re right back in the same boat.

      1. Why did they choose her? Is there a way to find out who else was in the running?
        I can’t believe there wasn’t anyone better

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  10. Why not getting someone from the area who lives and understands what goes on here? The village had a outsider from Illinois before and didn’t live here. This new village board is making wrong decisions. Remember this only a small village!

  11. As I look through these comments, I am left to wonder who would want to come work in such a hostile environment. As an experienced City Manager it is concerning to see all of the comments that have nothing to do with the truth.

    Upon researching recent history, this great community needs a proven and experienced City Administrator to come help get things moving back in the right direction. I have worked with Cassandra through different partnerships over the past several years and she is a person of incredible vision, experience, character, and integrity.

    City Administrators are required to be nonpartisan pursuant to the ICMA code of ethics, but I can assure you that this professional who was raised on a farm is not a liberal. She is a pro who knows how to help communities step in the right direction and reach their full potential.

    Salem Lakes is lucky to have her. Let’s back off the negatives and treat the professional as a professional.

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    1. Thank you for your post. This is what is wrong with the internet, third grader attacks. I am pretty sure the majority of these negative comments are coming from the losing team in the last election. Possibly the Salem Sentinal folks trying to diminish this board because they lost. Maybe they should ask themselves why they lost first. I’m pretty sure 4000+ people showed up to vote because they were longing for change, it was beautiful. The good news is that there are like 30 people who haven’t moved on. The fact that people are judging someone based on no facts is pathetic. I hope that Cassandra, our new administrator, is a rock star. This is what winning is about. Those who have respectful criticism should make it based on actions and words, not fearmongering. I know it’s Halloween season, but come on! The new administrator deserves respect. She has done nothing to deserve anything but that at this point. The petty attacks just make the Village look like a fool’s paradise. I don’t think the losers even want that, lets hope.

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    2. Raised on a farm? Hardly, she’s merely related to someone who has one. Pritzker lives on a farm too. No one is bipartisan, everyone comes from
      a belief system and values and I can assure you hers are hardly conservative.
      It’s sad not many can see through smoke and mirrors, especially after the last 3 years we’ve all been through. We do not want DEI.

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  12. For clarification…….. Hiring process for new Administrator.
    A selection committee was formed for initial review and screening.
    Top four candidates were chosen to advance in process, and names were published.
    This Board, recognized the Staff and Community should be included along with the Board, in the interview process, in which their recommendation summary was given great weight in final decision.

    Staff had opportunity in “Staff only” interviews, to ask key questions as it pertained to knowledge of their individual departments.
    The Board also reached out to the Community, and invited them to submit a letter of interest to participate in a 5 member panel to interview Candidates, with their questions. the selection of community participants were announced during October’s Village Board meeting. The Community Panel interview dates and times were posted, and was open to the public.
    Last but not least, Village Board members did their interviews.
    Cassandra Hiller emerged as the front runner.
    We as a New Board, value the voices of Our Staff, Residents and Business Owners, this is why we created this unique process.
    This Board is committed to serving our community, and those involved in the hiring of our new administrator believe Cassandra Hiller is as well.
    Thank you,
    Trustee Kelly Sweeting

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    1. Seems legit. The board seems like it’s being thorough…and any bit of illegitimacy would have shown through the interview process or picked up by us citizens involved through the process.

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    2. There’s the answer- business owners. By business owners it’s not the current one but new ones from Walmart, and other chains, not small business. Value the businesses you have.
      We’ll see lots of growth. Lots of section 8 as well.

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  13. I sit here reading these and can’t believe this is where we are. Maybe I shouldn’t comment but I just have to.

    I can assure you all, many hours were devoted to this process and careful consideration went into the choice of the final four, the interview process and the decision making to choose the person who the board felt would do the best for our community. Our interviews were completely different than the employee or stakeholder panels. We did take both panel’s recommendation and observations to heart. At the end of the day, we made the choice of who we felt would best help our community.

    What is disappointing is the comments from people passing judgement on someone whom they do not know, whom they have not met, and who has done nothing to warrant this bad behavior and nasty comments. I would have thought that after all our community has been through, people would be more gracious and welcoming and open minded to giving her a chance.

    Another thought to ponder for you all – this is a new board. We care to make our community better, to right the wrongs, to be involved to ensure the same mistakes don’t happen. We actively work – every single day. We read and look at everything.

    The administrators job is to carry out the directives of the board. So, give her a chance, if things go wrong – blame the board. Run for office. Volunteer to be on one of the various commissions or boards.

    What I can tell you, she is a professional – something our community has not had the pleasure of having. She has a love for our community because she spends a lot of time here. She has great ideas and is truly excited to help us. I have no doubt she will. She impressed me from the first Zoom interview all the way until the end of her in-person interview.

    I just do not understand the mentality behind these posts here and elsewhere. It’s like self sabotage. Almost like you want her to fail.

    I can’t make everyone happy. I know that. I sure didn’t give up a great deal of my life, with my family & kids sacrificing, to serve this Village to make decisions I don’t believe in or made without the best interest of the community as a whole.

    We can act better than this. Be part of the solution. Maybe try to be positive and helpful instead of hurtful and hateful. Extend a welcoming hand and offer to help. That is how we become better.

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    1. It sure looks like leadership picked the best candidate for the Village, Thank you Rita, Kelly and the board. We should have confidence you choice wisely.

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    2. Thank you very much for responding. I want to be as confident as you are, sincerely. Please forgive some of us for being skeptical as we have been disappointed in the past. Be patient with us as our level of confidence in the board catches up with yours.

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  14. The comments here are wild and categorically incorrect regarding Ms. Hiller, her upbringing and her track record. All stemming from people who do not know her and have had zero interaction with her. She’s accomplished some amazing things in each role she has held over the years. Can’t wait to see her in action for Salem Lakes!

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    1. Lejcar and Ptaszynski have to go. There is no logical reason for them to stay employed. If they have any moral sense they both would resign. But I don’t think they have any honor or integrity to do so

  15. Self preservation is the goal of every public employee.

    Administrators are on the top of the heap.

    Republic be damned, rule of law be tossed, we are living the legacy of Ben Franklin’s warning that once it is known to vote for the loot of government a republic fails.

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