Kaptain takes over as Elgin mayor
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David Kaptain officially accepted his role as mayor of Elgin Wednesday night in a swearing-in ceremony that also brought into the fold newly elected council members Tish Powell and Anna Moeller, and which marked the start of John Steffen's second term.
And the composition of the council table is not done shifting. City Clerk Diane Robertson called roll for the last time Wednesday as she served in her final council meeting before retirement. Robertson has worked for the city since 2000 and as clerk since 2007.
In brief speeches after taking their oaths of office, Kaptain, Moeller and Powell acknowledged the need for time to settle into their new positions but expressed their conviction to work toward solutions to the challenges they say face Elgin.
Kaptain has big plans for his coming term. Among them are efforts to increase efficiency on the council and city commissions, and using a portion of money from the tax increment financing district to fund grants and loans for low- and middle-income families living within its boundaries. Kaptain also plans to conduct listening tours and house calls to engage the community.
Kaptain sat down with the Daily Herald to discuss his ideas for Elgin and his plans as mayor. What follows has been edited for space:
Q. What do you think is the most important issue facing Elgin right now?
A. The transparency issue is something, and I think communication, both internal and external, in the city is going to be improved and needs to be improved. The city manager and I have started to work on a couple of ideas to help facilitate that.
Q. What is the first thing you want to do as mayor?
A. I think establishing a better system of communication: we'd look toward the 3-1-1 type of program. Just getting the city staff and employees to communicate better with the public.
Q. How often will residents be able to find you at city hall?
A. Office hours every Wednesday. They can make an appointment.
Q. You ran your campaign with a focus on the neighborhoods. How will that focus extend into your time as mayor?
A. I'm still doing the NeighborWorks program. I'm going to stay active on the board of the Neighborhood Housing Services and Elgin Community Network and I'll continue that type of work. With Elgin Community Network, one of our big things is to help communicate with the community and provide programs that help people tie in. I think those are some things that are needed.
Q. What are your ideas for improving the business climate in downtown?
A. I think at this point, we spent over $50 million down there in new construction with the condominiums that are there, we did the streetscape, which is still an ongoing project; we need to give it some time to see if these things have worked. If the Downtown Neighborhood Association now has had one year of doing economic development down there, I think they need time. We just need to give it a little time and let these things go through the process.
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