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: http://Facebook page: Elect Lynne Johnson, Aurora Alderman, 10th Ward, Aurora, IL
Office sought: Aurora City Council Ward 10 (4-year Term)
Family: I am a divorced mom with one daughter, Amanda, age 16. I have 12 siblings (nine sisters and three brothers) and grew up in Lisle, Illinois. My father is a mason, and my mom is a traditional mother who loves to cook and care for her children.
Occupation: Substitute Teacher for Plainfield School District 202 and Naperville School District 203
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education/Spanish, Magna Cum Laude, Benedictine University, 2005
Civic involvement: I am a member of the Aurora Historical Society, a board member of my homeowner's association, and I participate in several area events such as: 360 Youth Services, Blessings in a Backpack, St. Baldrick's, Special Spaces (children with life threatening illnesses), GiGi's Playhouse (children who have Down syndrome), and Naperville CARES.
Elected offices held: None yet.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
My number one priority as Alderman is addressing our property taxes by reevaluating the assessment process. The current assessment process is creating an unfair financial burden on the homeowner of Aurora in this recession. We shouldn't allow property taxes to increase while the value of our homes decrease. This needs to be conscientiously evaluated and reformed.
Key Issue 2
Another top priority is ensuring that we are living within our means as a city. Aurora needs to be a city of operational efficiency. As I balance my budget in my own home, we need to balance our budget at the city level also. This can be achieved by promoting more cost effective and efficient measures within our city operational procedures. We need to recognize the difference between our wants and our needs during this recession.
Key Issue 3
An additional top issue is the need to create more jobs in Aurora by enticing new and existing businesses into the area to spur economic growth. We also need to help private businesses by providing tax breaks and cutting any red governmental tape that strangle their businesses causing them to fail. Businesses create jobs not government, and if you couple those businesses with hardworking taxpayers, then you stimulate the economy and watch it grow. If we can do this, we will watch our City of Lights and our people blossom into the future.
Downtown Aurora is undergoing a revival, but there are still a number of vacant storefronts. What should be done to spur more business development?
Instead of focusing on empty store fronts, let's encourage private investment and the construction of office buildings. We as a city should tout the advantages of doing business in Aurora to the overtaxed businesses not only in Chicago, but in Cook County. Enticing larger businesses downtown will grow our tax base and also provide some much needed relief to the homeowner. Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois, and it may be time to start looking like it.
The city recently celebrated an entire calendar year without a murder for the first time since the 1940s. What are your top two ideas for making Aurora a safer place?
1. The implementation of quarterly meetings with the police and the citizens of each ward. This would be an open forum type format where questions can be asked, and the police can address their concerns. Developing a relationship between people and law enforcement is one key in keeping the city safe. The biggest weapon against crime is an involved citizenry. 2. Many students fall prey to the allure of the gang lifestyle. Gang awareness programs can be implemented in our schools. These programs can involve law enforcement, former gang members, groups such as Boys 2 Men, the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, and successful men and women from the community who can share their stories. As a teacher, tutoring and mentoring our youth is near and dear to my heart, and they are vital to each new generation's success. We need to ensure that every school has a program to allow this to occur while encouraging our youth to embrace the idea of tutoring and mentoring without shame but with pride.
Residents will be paying more property taxes for the next 30 years to pay for the new library and library technology improvements. What can be done to keep property taxes in check? What are your ideas for streamlining city services or reducing its budget?
It's imperative during this recession that all operational costs of the city are audited. There have been discussions of streamlining city services, but that will not address any inherent waste and possible fraud. Once the audit process is completed, a streamline procedure can be implemented by department.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
Deciding to become active in our community has been an ambition of mine for some time now. I have always been a concerned citizen from the sidelines, but have taken a more active role recently. We had a developer who was going to build a complex of apartment high-rise buildings in our direct community without abiding by a city ordinance of enclosed parking spaces. This sprung me into action, because I am a proud homeowner who intends to remain here in our Aurora, the City of Lights. We canvassed our neighborhood and our adjacent neighborhood and gathered 140 petition signatures against the development urging them to abide by the city ordinance. As I passionately spoke for our community, it awakened my innate responsibility to do more for our community and to be the voice of my constituents who don't have someone to be their voice. I was successful being a voice for our adjacent neighborhoods, and I will champion for my extended neighborhoods. I intend to be a voice for each neighborhood without being beholden to anyone but them. A genuine heart and mind who will represent them truly without anything to gain from any lawyer, any business, or any developer behind closed doors. Being a substitute teacher, provides me with the opportunity and time to devote myself to this job fully rather than on a part-time basis as which may be the case with other candidates. In my humble opinion, I know that I will represent my constituents in an effective and efficient manner with my heart and mind always centered upon "being and walking in their shoes."
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
The one good idea that I haven't heard anyone talking about is enticing new and existing businesses to our downtown Aurora area by showcasing what we have to offer them vs. the expensive Chicago downtown alternative and alluring them so much that they can't resist our assets which translates into significant savings to their bottom line. We have the Chicago downtown feel but at a much more affordable price. We need to brainstorm marketing methods to convince new businesses that our business friendly downtown Aurora is the place to plant their seeds and watch their business grow. Let's enchant, captivate, intrigue, and persuade them!