The Geneva 1st Ward election has gone from a longtime alderman not sure he wanted to run again to him fending off two challengers.
Last summer, Charles Brown said he wasn't inclined to run again, after Zachary Ploppert announced he would run if Brown didn't. Esther Barclay then announced she was interested, too. But by the time Brown made up his mind, the other two decided to stay in.
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Of the 10 current aldermen, Brown has the most experience. The 69-year-old scientist has served a total of 21 years in two stints _ 1987-1992 and 1995 to the present.
A Canadian by birth, Brown moved to Geneva when he took a job at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia. "I thought very hard about running again," he said, but decided his experience would be valuable "in these times when we are trying to burn the candles on both ends" financially.
Barclay has been on the Geneva library board since 2003, serving as president since 2006.
Barclay is proud of being a nearly lifelong resident of Geneva, having moved here as a child. The saleswoman has served on five city committees or commissions.
She is also the ex-wife of former 2nd Ward Alderman William Barclay, who used to sit next to Brown on the council dais.
"One message that I continually hear is that they (residents) are concerned with the services the city provides, and the other voice I am hearing is that they want someone to respond to them and listen to them and take their stuff to the city council," Barclay said.
Ploppert also grew up in Geneva. The 20-year-old is a junior at Northern Illinois University. He also works at DG Hardware in St. Charles and is a member of the Geneva Strategic Plan Advisory Committee. He participated in the student government mock city council program while attending Geneva High.
Ploppert cited communication with residents as his No. 2 campaign issue in a Daily Herald questionnaire. He wants to start a 1st Ward Facebook page and hold meet-the-alderman events at coffeehouses. He also wants to create an e-mail subscription list of ward residents, so he could alert them to issues and solicit opinions.
He disagrees that he is too young to serve. "As a part of Geneva's 'next generation,' I believe it is important for that generation to be represented on the city council now in order to ensure Geneva stays on track and continues to move in to the future all the while preserving and honoring our history and traditions," he wrote.
The three disagree slightly over whether Geneva's local portion of the sales tax is too much. Brown acknowledged a rate increase was needed several years ago to support capital improvements, but wants to get rid of that increase. Ploppert said it is unrealistic to promise to lower taxes and Barclay favors keeping the rate steady for now, as lowering it would further strain the city's budget.
They also disagree on whether a recent water and sewer rate increase was needed. Brown voted against those, arguing the city had sufficient reserves to cover its cost for another year and that rates should be based on the previous year's costs. Barclay said people told her they would rather have a small increase now than a large increase next year. Ploppert said it was needed for capital items, that the increase was about the equivalent of buying a bottle of water a month, and that since the new water treatment plant opened, people are saving money because they don't have to soften their water.