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.
Office sought: Aurora City Council Ward 10 (4-year Term)
Family: Divorced, 17 year old son
Occupation: Lawyer and Commercial Real Estate Broker and Developer
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Economics, University of Michigan 1980 Juris Doctor Pepperdine University 1983 LLM (Advanced Law Degree, Masters of Laws, American University 1986)
Civic involvement: Founder and Director Emeritus of StreetWise Magazine in Chicago Member and Past President, Rotary Club of Aurora Co-Founder/President, Aurora Business United Networking Group Former member of the Aurora Historic Loan Committee General Counsel for Cultural Creatives/Aurora Art Walk
Elected offices held: Aurora Downtown, Director and Chair for both the Legislative Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee; Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, Director and General Counsel 2005-2006
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: NO
Key Issue 1
Creating jobs through responsible development
Key Issue 2
Promoting a viable business mix to minimize the property tax burden while ensuring quality City services and quality schools
Key Issue 3
Develop Downtown Aurora into a thriving and attractive place to go!
Downtown Aurora is undergoing a revival, but there are still a number of vacant storefronts. What should be done to spur more business development?
As a director and Chair of the Legislative Committee for Aurora Downtown, I have been working to create incentive programs to bring in new businesses, and support existing business improvement. These proposals will be presented to the Executive Committee of Aurora Downtown and then to City Council. It is imperative that businesses who are willing to invest in our community understand that they have a partner in the City, willing to support them in financially responsible ways as they seek to do business in our community. These possible incentive programs include ways in which prospective business owners can improve the fa?ade and interior of downtown properties, whereby putting them back on the tax rolls and creating new businesses.
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?
First, the police, social service agencies and residents deserve tremendous credit ! This is fantastic ! I believe we need to commit our resources and ingenuity to enterprising programs that create gainful opportunities for our youth and underemployed individuals. As a member of the Aurora Rotary Club, I created an internship program for students at West high school. We had eight students hired last semester and 14 this semester. Most of these jobs are Monday through Friday from 2 to 5, thus the kids are off the streets AND earning $8.50 per hour doing bookkeeping, legal work, working in schools and on political campaigns. By working with community groups, schools, colleges, and the Park District, we can leverage opportunities without incurring massive cash outlays from the City budget. Currently, I am working on starting a LaCrosse club for East and West high schools, much like those in other area high schools, who have combined to start joint programs such as Waubonsee/Metea and Plainfield/Oswego high schools. This activity will give kids something to do after school (keeping them off the streets) and have students from different high schools work TOGETHER and not against each other. Studies show that club sports, including LaCrosse, build self esteem and executive function skills kids need to move forward in life, including goal setting, team building, communication, cooperation, and mutual support.
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?
I believe the key to promoting business development in Aurora to keep property taxes in check. But businesses must have reasonable, affordable procedures to gain approval for projects that are deemed appropriate for the City. Many times there are too many levels of approval needed to develop a new property, which is a big deterrent to getting businesses started and employing people and generating real estate, sales, payroll and food and beverage taxes. For new buildings there are sometimes 6 different city entities that a prospective business owner or developer has to present to in order to get their project approved. I would like to see several of these meetings done away with. We need to streamline, embrace and welcome development especially if it can create jobs and generate taxes. Such tax revenues would make it easier to deliver the highest quality City services. In addition, we need to explore other communities? best practices and employ the best in streamlining our service delivery. While it is critical to maintain jobs, we also need to look at job efficiencies, employing technology, working intergovernmentally and seeking the best utility and service rates through group buying. These tactics can keep City spending in check while delivering the highest quality services. I applaud the Mayor and the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce which formed a blue-ribbon committee (which I am on) to look at how best to streamline the existing process and review some of our building and zoning codes.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
We need someone who knows Aurora and is involved with the community. I have lived in Aurora and the 10th Ward for over 16 years. I have a proven track record in leadership as President of the Aurora Rotary Club, starting StreetWise in Chicago in 1992 which has created 9300+ jobs for the homeless, and as a director and Chair of the Strategic Planning and Legislative Committees for Aurora downtown. I am deeply committed to job creation, the development of our downtown and support of our youth. And with my experience as founder, director and President of StreetWise since 1992,I am versed in social services so critical to our community. I know the top city officials and have a collegial working relationship with Aurora's civic and community leaders. I helped start Aurora Business United to bring together business, government and industry and the group has swelled to several hundred members! People love this monthly group committed to providing a forum for people to work together, improve their businesses and community, network and connect for the greater good ! I understand the critical role economic development plays in supporting infrastructure, city services, jobs and education, and I am an experienced proponent of development that will lessen the tax burden on our homeowners. I have been practicing law for over 27 years and understand the needs and concerns of developers, commercial property owners and business owners. I was appointed to the Aurora First Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and have worked for two years to improve the development and building process. I have raised my son in Aurora, and I believe Aurora holds tremendous promise of a safe, prosperous and thriving community that can provide opportunity for all its citizens.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Starting a Lacrosse club involving youth from Aurora high school. By following the successful model of Batavia, Oswego and Plainfield clubs, we will provide leadership, team building, cooperation and goal setting skills to young men. And we will offer good role models, build self esteem and provide healthy activity that keeps kids off the streets.