Kevin Mathews: Candidate Profile
Aurora City council
Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Aurora City council
Family: Married One child
Occupation: 2008 – Present: Serving in an advisory capacity to the Department of Homeland Security. 1992-2008: Provided business consultancy services to a number of businesses including Fortune 500 companies, franchisees, and business start-ups.
Education: Waubonsee Community College AAS
Northern Illinois University, BS Finance
Civic involvement: Volunteer Martial Arts instructor: Mooseheart
Martial Arts Instructor: FVPD
Board of Directors: NAFEX
North American Chairman for the Pyrus industry providing advice and guidance to agricultural growers.
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
When I went door-to-door collecting signatures I literally talked to over two thousands residents across all wards in the city. Their greatest concerns were excessive taxation and curbing Government spending; they expressed outrage at the rich compensation packages afforded public sector employees verses their counterparts in the private sector.
As the Taxpayer's Watchdog I vow to view every dollar spent as if I earned that dollar myself. I promise to bring common sense kitchen table finance to our bloated municipal bureaucracy and to temper my actions with the experience and insight gained in nearly 20 years of consulting with companies in a variety of industries and with the experience I gained as a result of running my own businesses.
I am the only candidate with a record documented in the local newspaper that spans almost a decade on speaking out against excessive spending and rolling back the Municipal Government to its proper role:
• Police Protection
• Fire Protection
• Parks/Green spaces for water retention/absorption
When you hear other candidates speak of bringing jobs to the areas or partnering with business, understand that they are speaking of spending your tax dollars to subsidize businesses in risky ventures that were not viable enough to attract private capital in the equity markets.
Additionally, the overused TIF districts have created a burden for the people of Aurora, effectively raising the share of city services assessed to the overall population and serving as a de facto subsidy.
Key Issue 2
Ending Crony Capitalism
What I have seen over my lifetime is the slow but steady progression of this community moving closer and closer to emulating the politics of Chicago. In our very recent past we had an Alderman convicted and sentenced to 3 years for accepting bribes. Recently, we have seen Crony Capitalism taken to new levels. The reality is that this race is about principles and ideals, and it is about the proper role of Government in our lives. Do we the people own the just fruits of our labor, or does our income exist purely to fund the whims of government bureaucrats and to feed their patronage constituents?
The proper role of government is not to dictate the development of community to serve the ends of public officials and their patrons. Rather, the role of government is to insure domestic tranquility by enforcing property rights, punishing criminal offenders, and providing services that are best realized through cooperative effort such as clean water, sanitation, roads and fire protection.
The role of government is not to transform the taxpayer's money into capital projects that generate revenue streams for political benefactors. The role of government is not to pick winners and losers in businesses, and the role of government is not to determine which businesses should be subsidized. Recently, we all witnessed the city voting to make a deal to subsidize the expansion of a pizzeria. It may sound appealing on the surface, but because it supports the city's questionable participation in the restaurant row, there remain fundamental issues. What right does the city have to take the tax dollars of the pizza franchisees, of the independent owner of a pizza parlor, and of the Dominos franchisee and turn their own tax dollars into a subsidy to their direct competitors? What right did the city have to deprive Lee Fry of his property rights and stop him from building his hotel during a time of economic recession when he could acquire labor and materials at reduced prices while bolstering the local employment scene? Look behind the scenes at what is happening; follow the money. The government needs to get out of the business of deciding who the winners and losers are, and the government needs to stop using the taxpayer's money to fund questionable developments that end up in private equity holder's hands.
Deals like the convention center on the east bank of the Fox River are an example of government overreach that has devastated the taxpayer. The edifice to government largesse known as RiverEdge Park is another testament to the government ramrodding through another project that the public neither wants nor supports. Worse, some of the money is coming from our nearly bankrupt state, whose government just raised your income taxes to support a handout for RiverEdge Park. Now follow the money, it will be interesting to see who gets the landscaping contracts, etc.
One of the most disconcerting things I encountered when going door to door was the absolute fear municipal employees and community volunteers expressed when talking about how they felt coerced into putting candidate's signs in their yards or face job retaliation or a cut in funding. In large part this is why I decided to make a principled stand and not offer campaign signs, not even on request. I never want a citizen to be put in a position of feeling they have to choose between supporting a candidate who represents their principles or face retaliation.
Key Issue 3
Rolling back Municipal Government to its proper role, scope, and size.
Municipal Governments are established to provide a handful of services that benefits the citizenry as a whole. These are communal functions in which cooperative efforts yield the optimal solution, while not infringing on the unalienable rights of individuals. These traditional roles are:
• Public safety ordinances
• Traffic law enforcement
• Police protection
• Building and maintaining roads
• Fire protection
The city of Aurora is currently operating outside the confines of the proper role of Government. It has overreached in many areas and has become a tyrannical bully that routinely encroaches on constitutional rights. And it has crushed the very societal pact that this nation's great nation was built upon.
• Depriving Lee Fry of the development of HIS property
• The holiday decoration ordinance
• Welfare and assistance
• Subsidization of leisure activities
For instance, it is doubtful that the city's ridiculous encroachment on free speech and expression on personal property known as the holiday ornament ordinance could withstand a court challenge. This ordinance is a prime example of tyrannical overreach, where one group of people uses the coercive force of government to enforce their will on the benign antics of others. Where is the public safety issue? Where is the demonstration of anything detrimental other than it offending the refined senses of a bunch of nosy busy bodies? Such dictatorial actions are better suited to despotic governments in third world countries than the shining city on the hill. And while you may be offended by my neighbor's Christmas lights in July, I am theoretically affected by the weed and feed you dump on your lawn that leaches into our mutual water system. Should we also pass an ordinance in regard to Scott's Weed and Feed?
The city of Aurora needs to get out of micro managing people's lives and get back to addressing the larger issues affecting the city.
The city has repeatedly mismanaged, turned a negligent eye, and been derelict in the arena of its proper purview. For example, a number of recently opened businesses have created traffic hazards that are clearly pubic safety issues. Public safety is a primary function of a municipality, yet this city routinely allows businesses that create traffic hazards to open.
On the other hand, the city put a moratorium on banks, car washes, auto repair businesses, and quick lubes because they did not generate enough sales tax revenue. The purpose of Government is not to optimize its tax revenue. And the fact that the City Council even placed a moratorium in the first place is indicative of a far deeper problem.
This city and its council are amazing. They are always ready to palm the taxpayer's money to private business and individuals under the auspice of improving the city but are routinely derelict in their primary duties and responsibilities.
It is not the place of the city to determine which business concepts are viable, how many of a given concept there should be, or to finance their start up and build out. It is the city's responsibility to insure that before a permit is issued that there is adequate parking and that traffic is not impeded by the business. And yet time and again this primary aspect is either ignored or an incompetent assessment is made.
The scope of Government aside, the correct size for its proper function needs to be considered. There should be little ambiguity in the numbers of personnel needed to administer city functions. You either need x number of police officers or you do not. If you are cutting officers you need, than you are failing in the fulfillment of a primary duty, public safety. If you do not need the officers then you had the sizing wrong. If you have personnel to cut in the bad times, then it is indicative that the position was not needed.
Recently the incumbent, in a desperate attempt to shore up his voting base, made a de facto accusation of institutionalized racism, and succeeded in ramrodding legislation through which resulted in an expansion of bureaucracy. The mayor, to his credit, indicated that this would create an ongoing expense for the city. However, he then volunteered that it could be staffed by current personnel and that the position(s) could be added when times were not so lean. So here is a perfect example. If you can spread the burden across more workers, it should be obvious that your workforce is not optimized. The minute they have some money to spare, the automatic reflex of the bureaucrat is to grow the institutionalized footprint of government.
The city needs to:
• Right size personnel
• Relegate services provided to the proper venue
• Alter compensation packages
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A combination of professional experience, insight, long term vision, and knowledge of their city's history, the constitution, and the proper role of government. I am the only candidate in this race with a documented record spanning approximately a decade who has consistently spoken about taxation and the proper role of government in the citizen's life. The citizen's of Aurora have routinely relayed public safely concerns and I am uniquely qualified to address security issues, balancing a right to privacy with detection and enforcement.
My experience as an entrepreneur and business consultant will allow me to detect legitimate business development need from handouts. The proper role for the government in business is to build the infrastructure, both physical and administrative, that is conducive to business. However, it is important to avoid crony capitalism and Aurora reeks of it. Only a few years ago, we had an Alderman jailed for accepting bribes. You are naïve if you think these are isolated episodes and not a systemic problem in the city as a whole.
Equally important is the knowledge of the proper role of government in people's lives. Too many in this city are looking to use the coercive arm of government to deprive others of the just fruits of their labor for their own benefit; too many are willing to impose their standards on the begging actions of others who simply differ in how they define the pursuit of happiness.
Additionally you have to look where people are in their life, how hungry they are. I have put my time in the trenches and built something for myself and my family. I am beyond that point in my life when you can alter my judgment by hanging shiny baubles in front of me. A few hundred thousand dollars, even a million is not enough of a price to cost me my integrity. And in truth it would not alter my lifestyle an iota. We are very comfortable with who we are.
I work now out of choice, not out of necessity. We have been very blessed. In the end this race is about ensuring that future generations have the opportunities our parents had. They do not deserve to come into this world burdened by excessive taxation nor an overbearing government hell bent on controlling every aspect of their life. And while the blessing of liberty can be a dual edged sword at present it is dangerously close to being wrestled from the hand of we the people.
One thing you learn in corporate America is a faux degree in politics. Politics is the art of compromise. It is the art of one hand washing the other so your hand can be washed in turn. And that is how people are corrupted. Once you show your hand, once you make your desires known, you open yourself to being compromised in order to obtain your goal. Unlike any of the other candidates I want nothing other than a chance to serve in the City Council and reduce it to its proper role. There is no issue that requires a quid pro quo, no need for me to wash the others hand. I have not promised anyone anything. I am not trying to build anything other than a wholesome environment for people to conduct their lives in, unencumbered by an over reaching Government. I have no political backers who want something from me or from this city other than to be left to their own devices. I have all I will need when given a seat at the Council table to accomplish my goals, I have the ultimate tool at my disposal, I can always vote no on frivolous spending and government overreach, that is the only empowerment I need to obtain my objective.
There is one other important consideration. In two short years there will be a strong wind of change blowing. I know of two very strong capable, reform minded candidates well known to the public that are eyeing a run for mayor. They will both be reform minded candidates looking to reign in spending and alter the way public sector employees are compensated. They are going to need a strong hand to assist them, someone who has the backbone to defy convention and look at the larger picture. Right now, the City Council consists of 11 tax and spend liberal Aldermen and one moderate. In a modern society where we are suppose to be color blind, I would think the idea of diversity should also extend to political ideals. I would bring a strong conservative voice that is sorely needed to the City Council and a true measure of diversity.
But in the end, you need to understand why I am running. Unlike several candidates I have not had a lifelong dream of sucking off the public teat or a desire to dominate other people's lives. Nor do I have a grandiose sales pitch that amounts to transferring the honest labor of good men to a bunch of cronies under the guise of improving the city.
or over 20 years I labored on a weekly basis to help other people conceptualize and expand their business, creating employment opportunities. To that end, I have appeared before dozens of city councils across a plethora of states representing clients and my own business interests, and I have never ever before witnessed a city council like Aurora's, where people who have not even run so much as a lemonade stand tell seasoned businessmen how to operate their businesses. It is surreal. At the same time, I did what I thought was my civic duty. On weekends, I worked with children and tried to instill the values of rugged self reliance and self respect in them. That took away from family time, but I had the fortune of a good wife who understood many children did not have male role models in their life. I also made time to attend city council meetings, community meetings, I wrote letters to the editor, I wrote my aldermen, I spoke out at city council meetings, and in the end I was ignored, year after year, episode after episode.
So what do you do when your city routinely ignores the person they are supposed to work for? You use the orderly rules of the process to unseat them and get your ideas across. That is why I entered this race.
The Alderman At Large represents all the people of the city, not a narrow constituency group. As I went door to door gathering signatures, I spoke to over two thousand people, and I came to realize that no one man can ever come to have the breadth of experiences that encompass such a diverse set of circumstances and life experiences. To that end I have committed to forming a panel of individuals who differ greatly from me in terms of life experience and backgrounds. I shall endeavor to reach out to these individuals to gain their perspective when needed on appropriate matters to insure other viewpoints are heard. In general, these are people from all walks of life I encountered while going door to door and consist of small businessmen and women, single mothers, young people who are at the pre-family stage of life, law enforcement, and municipal employees as well happenstance ethnic diversity. It is appropriate and proper that the Alderman At Large respond to constituents and attempt to consider the views of all people when he makes decisions. I never once gained a response from either Alderman-At-Large nor did they consider the rationale of my pleas.
In the end, the relevant question is this: Do you think the diversity of the people is best represented by adding another lawyer, another real estate developer, or a political consultant to the council ranks, if so you have three candidates to choose from, if not you now have another choice.
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
While businesses are overtaxed, that tax is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices for products and services. In essence this means consumers are double taxed, first by the taxes levied against the business, secondly by the actual local sales tax.
Given the physical size of Aurora it is important to understand that Aurora is not competitive with the surrounding communities on a tax basis for casual dining. It is just as convenient for a west side resident to travel south or north to other communities to dine, as it is to traverse the width of the city to dine. People are being driven to other communities due to the high cost of goods and services.
It is important to realize we now live in a globalized and very mobile world, and business accrues to the lowest cost provider at a given standard of quality. As a result, Aurora needs to look to reducing expenditures in the long term so it can compete with surrounding communities on a sales tax basis for its citizen's expenditures.
Additionally, the relatively high sales tax on restaurants has a disproportionate effect on lower income individuals who tend to spend a greater proportion of their income on fast foods; this represents an extremely regressive tax that penalizes the working poor who often have little time to prepare meals at home.
In general the need for sales tax revenue could be lessened through right sizing of city services and alterations in public employee compensation packages. One of the moral hazards of a sales tax is that it distorts the economic picture of the city. Excess funds that manifest themselves during times of economic expansion tend to lead to an expansion of municipal programs and a corresponding expansion of employees to administer them. Because pay scales are based on comparable communities and large cities pay their municipal employees more on average, there is a bias centered on self-interest to increasing the size of municipal Government, thus ratcheting up overall compensation. This cycle of growth and wage increases is empowered by the excess revenues produced by sales taxes during times of economic expansion. Therefore it is important to consider rebating sales tax revenue during times of economic expansion or paying down debt in lieu of fueling Government expansion.
Talking with your friends and neighbors, what seems to be their biggest public safety concern? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.
Overcrowding due to multi family and extended family relationships has created areas of high population density that overwhelm antiquated infrastructures, create havens for crime, and pose significant public health and safety concerns.
As mentioned, the citizen's of Aurora have routinely relayed public safely concerns and I am uniquely qualified to address security issues, balancing a right to privacy with detection and enforcement.
Private charitable organizations have exploited a weak city council that is curried by fear of public rebuke and the simultaneous desire to develop a dependent, captive voter enclave. As a result, Aurora is viewed as an appropriate dumping ground by surrounding communities for socio-economically challenged individuals and refugees from third world countries. Aurora is the source of the low skilled labor pool that serves surrounding communities. One only has to sit on a main thoroughfare early in the morning to watch the exoduses of lower income workers as they leave Aurora to serve the surrounding communities. In effect, the taxpayers of Aurora are subsidizing the low cost labor pool of service workers for Oswego, Geneva, Naperville, and St, Charles.
Fueling this is the change that was brought about by an impotent city council that adopted the ordinance standards originated in the eastern part of the United States.
In order to alter the mix of residents, the city should focus on developments that favor seniors, who consume far less in city services than other demographics.
Additionally, the city should strongly look at on street parking ordinances to discourage multi-family households.
Above all, the city needs to emulate the Leadership of Alderman Lawrence, who has repeatedly pointed out that Aurora does more to provide opportunity and assistance to the disadvantaged than any of the surrounding communities and there is no shame in drawing a line and actively recruiting productive citizens.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
One, I am not in the habit of speaking on matters where I do not have command of the relevant facts. As I am not a member of the city council I do not have direct access to the manpower reports and utilization of employees, therefore I cannot comment directly on municipal employees or services. However, because I have routinely attended and observed city council meetings for years, and because I have publicly addressed the council, I am aware of a few undisputed areas of bureaucratic largesse.
We need to end subsidies of government operation that compete against the private sector. It is a joke among members of the City Council that we subsidize everything. One example is golf course rates. I have attended a meeting where they deliberately set the rate well below the fair and reasonable market value for a round of golf. This not only turns the business owner's own tax dollar against him, but it is not a proper role of government to subsidize the select leisure activities of a minority of the populace to the detriment of the entire population. This is a moral hazard. I would eliminate all analogous subsidies. Next, the Government has no right to take taxpayer money and subsidize charitable institutions. It is not the role of government to use its coercive power of taxation to force charitable acts and deprive individuals of the just fruits of their labor.
Additionally, there are several organizations that are subsidized by our municipal government who engage in activities that are in clear violation of federal law. These subsidies need to end.
In general, the subsidies to business need to end. If a business has a viable concept, there is capital available. If there is no capital available there are several standard reasons: One is that the originator of the concept does not wish to adequately compensate investors for the risk ensued, another is that they are not willing to share the profits or lose control, and finally, the concept may simply not be viable. The partnerships between business and Government have proven themselves to be poor deals for taxpayers and are simply subsidies that are an affront to the principles of capitalism. This represents an antiquated way of thinking that was promulgated in university settings 20 years ago. Experience has now dictated these partnerships imprudent in general. Today, the markets are awash in cash looking for a home. Interest rates are beat down, and investors are sitting on piles of money. There is no reason a viable project cannot find funding. It simply becomes a question of the willingness to share profits.
We have an aging infrastructure. Over the last few decades, too much of Aurora's budget has been dedicated to edifices to politicians' egos and crony capitalism, while our antiquated streets, water, and sewer systems have been neglected. We need a stronger infrastructure, and these capital expenditures should be budgeted for and given priority over the feel good projects that have been dominant in city planning for the past few decades.
Additionally, we need a thorough audit to determine the correct level of staffing needed to fulfill the primary function of municipal government. For example, at present I do not know if our law enforcement is or is not adequately staffed. However, if the determination is made that in the interest of public safety additional manpower is needed, I would allocate resources to fill the gap. As Police protection is a primary and proper role of municipal government.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Community is the operative word. Historically, Aurora has been a large city with a small town feel. However, in the ensuing decades, the spirit of community has been eroded. While it is easy to point the finger at ethnic diversity as a causal factor, the reality is that Aurora has always had large, silo, ethnic factions. The real issue is that as society has progressed, government has taken on the role that used to be the purview of fraternal organizations; thus, government systematically deprived the community of organized, charitable institutions that serve as transition mechanisms into adulthood for young men and woman, while simultaneously depriving them of the beneficial relationships of mentor-protégé relationships that proffered a sentiment of unity.
We need to rekindle the spirit of community in our city. One way to foster that is to develop a database of hobbies, interests, and activities sponsored by the city and administered by volunteers to develop outreach to like-minded individuals and foster new relationships that span the generations and across ethnicities.
I envision the city facilitating an introduction between individuals who share mutual interests, so they may bond and exchange interests and passions within the community, rather than developing alliances outside it. For instance, I know few chess players that would not delight in knowing who their fellow chess aficionados are, wine connoisseurs who would love nothing more than to share a glass of a rare vintage with a friend who could appreciate its finer qualities, bicycle enthusiasts who would delight in having a companion to take a cross country trip with, canoeists looking for a partner to shoot the rapids with, and bird watchers who wish to share their discoveries.
In our postmodern society, occupations are no longer as homogenous within the community as they were in the past. For instance, Aurora used to be home for a large enclave of railroad workers, so bounds were formed in the community based on industry occupations. Today there is an amazing amount of occupational diversity in a neighborhood; as a result, in order to build bonds of cohesion, it is important to emphasize the hobbies and interests of who we are outside of work in order to build a sense of community that transcends ethnic, religious, political, and socioeconomic barriers.
In this vein the city should avail more open meeting spaces to facilitate communications between hobbyist and interest groups. Volunteer trustees could be utilized to open and close facilities appropriately so to lessen any impact on the taxpayers.
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