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updated: 3/2/2011 2:59 PM

Aurora candidates share ideas for improving city

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Candidates for Aurora City Council are full of ideas.

Ten candidates running for four spots in the April 5 election -- alderman-at-large and in wards 1, 5 and 6 -- have shared proposals to create boat docks on the Fox River, buy a police dog and do away with parking meters downtown.

Some running for ward seats support eliminating the at-large positions, sending welcome letters to new residents and studying the number of city staff necessary to provide services.

These ideas, candidates say, may help downtown businesses, improve public safety and generate more revenue for the city.

Here's a look at some of their suggestions.

Fox River boat docks

Matt Harrington, write-in candidate for alderman-at-large, said creating boat docks with advertisements could add energy to downtown.

"There's so much that we could do with our river area," said Harrington, a 48-year-old consultant. "People could use their small watercrafts, dock them around there and then be able to then visit our downtown area and make it a more vibrant place."

Police dog

Alderman-at-large candidate Judd Lofchie said he's heard police dogs are very effective at dispersing large crowds and sniffing out drugs. He suggests Aurora's police department purchase a K-9 -- instead of partnering with local departments to borrow their dogs when needed.

"Aurora does not have one police dog. Yes, they're expensive, they're like ten grand," said Lofchie, a real estate attorney. "There could be 100 people but when they (police) show up with the police dog, the crowd disperses."

No more meters

"We should get rid of the parking meters downtown but we should also reorganize our street parking to maybe make angled parking on opposite sides of the street going up Broadway," Harrington said.

Or, instead of immediately paying to remove parking meters, Alderman Mike Saville, who's running for re-election in Ward 6, said the city should put hoods over the meters and monitor whether downtown parking improves.

Eliminate at-large

Ward 5 Alderman John "Whitey" Peters said Aurora should eliminate its two at-large aldermanic posts and create two more wards when the city redistricts after the 2010 census.

"At least by going to more wards we could ensure a little more minority representation in the community and the aldermen would be dealing with 14,000 people instead of 17,000 or 18,000 people," Peters said.

Peters' challenger, Dean Myles, said he doesn't think the city needs to increase the number of wards.

Alderman-at-large Richard Irvin is up for re-election and said if the council decides to eliminate the position, he would comply. But he and his challengers, Harrington, Lofchie and Kevin Mathews, said the at-large posts provide residents with another official to hear their concerns and helps preserve the checks and balances in city government.

Vehicle stickers

Harrington suggested vehicle stickers could add $3 million to $5 million in new revenue for the city, especially if they include advertising and electronic capabilities.

"I formed it as a two-part city sticker," he said of his plan. "One would be a traditional city sticker that would have the ability to have one advertisement on the back so we could collect revenue from there. The second one, using the I-PASS model, was to make an e-city sticker, which could be downloaded. On the back side you would have multiple options to have advertisements, you'd have weather and emergency alerts and then you could also offer the consumer an option to have a police locator."

Other ideas

At-large candidate Mathews proposed conducting a study of how city employees use their time to determine how many people the municipality needs to employ.

Ward 6 challenger Isaac Count De Money Wilson suggested the city send a welcome letter to every new resident informing them about their aldermen and city services.

In Ward 1, incumbent Abby Schuler said the city could save on police salaries by using civilians for some desk duty jobs. And Ward 1 challenger Don Duve, a write-in candidate, said Aurora should increase its production of renewable energy by investing in updraft wind turbines that don't rely on wind currents to produce power.