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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 9 (4-year Term)
Family: Married, 3 Children
Occupation: Operating Maanager of a Real Estate Firm
Education: BS in Business Management with a Minor in Political Science- Eastern Illinois Univ. Juris Doctorate- University of Illinois College of Law
Civic involvement: South Eola Road (Ward 9) Art Project- Director Aurora- Ward 9 Precinct Committeeman Aurora Hunger Walk Committee Chair Homestead School PTA Member Remington Crossing Homeowners Association-Board of Directors Grace Community Christian Church-Board of Directors Aurora-Ward 9 Voter Registration Organizer Aurora-Ward 9 Bi-Partisan Candidate Forum Organizer Aurora /Will County Deputy Registrar for Elections Former PADS Homeless Shelter Night Coordinator Former Executive Secretary of Park Forest Community Development Corp.
Elected offices held: Aurora Ward 9/Wheatland Township Precinct Committeeman
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: NO
Key Issue 1
Economic Development/Job creation- I am the Director of the South Eola Road Art Project Committee. This volunteer committee has implemented a joint venture of the South Eola Road businesses/ commercial property owners in Aurora, the local grade schools, and the Ward 9 community as a whole. In working with the Principals of the grade schools, the students create art projects which are collected and displayed in the Ward 9 Business corridor. Initially, with the cooperation of the commercial property owners, the art displays were posted in the vacant businesses. The Art Project Celebration Kickoff brought together the community to view the art displays in the beautified empty storefronts. At the same time, a customer appreciation weekend was organized with the existing businesses to bring about increased foot traffic and overall awareness of our local businesses. From the overwhelmingly favorable response to the initial Art Project Celebration Weekend, many existing businesses have requested that the Art Projects be displayed in their windows as well, and not just the vacant businesses. Further, there have been a number of inquiries regarding a number of the vacant spaces from the increased awareness from the Art Celebration. As we bring new businesses to the Ward, with it will come viable jobs and in time an increase in property values. The committee has also included the "Shop Local First" theme on the flyers and posters to stress to residents the importance of keeping our sales tax dollars in Aurora.
Key Issue 2
Communication- In recent years, the lines of communication between the City Council and our Ward have been virtually non-existent. The average resident of the Ward did not always feel that the issues specific to Far South East Aurora were being addressed. In my various roles of leadership in the community, I have always held a policy of open communication, to bring differing ideas together to come to the best resolution to an issue. I will create a Ward website where information and concerns can be shared and addressed and I will be openly responsive to the needs and concerns of the residents.
Key Issue 3
Revitalizing the Neighborhood Watch Program- In our community, there has been some recent issues with residential burglaries and home invasions. I feel it is best to be pro-active with this issue in revitalizing the neighborhood watch program and holding a symposium with our local law enforcement and the residents to make them aware of the programs available including the Citizens Police Academy. I would take the lead in forming the group and in setting regular meeting dates. The current neighborhood group formed in a small corner of Ward 9 currently has no set meeting dates.
Downtown Aurora is undergoing a revival, but there are still a number of vacant storefronts. What should be done to spur more business development?
I believe the Art Project/ Economic stimulus plan I have implemented in Ward 9, could be implemented on a larger scale in downtown Aurora. We have numerous excellent volunteer organizations that I believe would want to get involved with such a venture benefiting our school children, our local businesses and, the the City as a whole. When the July 4th festivities were cut from the Aurora budget, a number of groups lead by one of the Alderman joined together to make sure the July 4th events would continue from local volunteer efforts.
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?
As stated under my campaign issues, I believe the neighborhood Watch program is an effective and cost efficient means to make Aurora safer. This would include educating the public on simple and easy safety measures that can make a huge difference like keeping an outside light on overnight and keeping vehicles locked that are parked on the street, in a paring lot or residential drive way. Second, I believe that after school and weekend programs make a large difference in the safety of a community. Currently, I am on the Board of Directors at Grace Community Christian Church. The Church started an after school enrichment program at McCarty Elementary School. The volunteer program teaches the students various core character traits. The Program is looking to expand to other schools to positively impact our youth.
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?
First, the city council needs to hold the Library Board accountable for tapping all revenue streams for the new library. As Ward 9 is in the far southeast corner of the City, I actually live closer to the Naperville Library than to an Aurora Library Branch. Although I use the aurora Library a good deal, I have at times checked out items at the Naperville Library under the reciprocal agreement. As an Aurora resident, I was charged a fee to check out any audio visual item at the Naperville Library. However, when I inquired about the fee the Aurora library has attached to its reciprocal agreement for Naperville residents, I learned that the Naperville rsidents are not charged any amount to check out any item, including CD's, DVD's and blue-rays or games. To my knowledge this missed opportunity to have a equal reciprocal agreement and collect these fees has been in place at least the 8 years I have lived in Aurora. Given this fact, I would also want to look at the reciprocal agreements for other neighboring library districts like Oswego and North Aurora. Overall the Library has literally neglected to collect thousands of dollars in fees. Secondly, I would stress that the City make every effort to contract with City of Aurora businesses and have more projects performed by the City of Aurora Departments and use outside vendors only as a last resort. For several years, the snow removal contract for the streets in much of Ward 9 has been with an Oswego based company, although the City has numerous vehicles for snow removal. If the City does not have enough vehicles to move the snow in a timely manner, priority for the contract should be given to an Aurora based business again to keep tax dollars in the City.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I believe my varied background and past and present service to Ward 9 make me the best candidate for the position of Alderman. As stated above, i have degrees in both Law and Business Management. Formerly, I was the Vice-President of ADR Systems of America, an alternative dispute resolution firm. In this position, I negotiated settlement parameters for complex arbitrations and mediations. I have also worked as an Insurance negotiator and investigator handling insurance claims matters for fortune 500 companies that are self insured. My education and experience have provided me the skill set to successfully handle the complex issues facing the City of Aurora in these difficult economic times. However, more importantly, I have served the citizens of Ward 9 as a precinct committeeman, educating the residents on the political issues impacting their everyday lives. In Ward 9 I have organized bi-partisan candidate forums and voter registration drives in to keep the residents up to date on the latest issues effecting our Ward. In addition, I was a Committee Chairman for the Aurora CROP Hunger Walk to benefit several local food pantries. Lastly, I have served on my Homeowners Association Board and the Grace Community Christian Church Board dealing with large budgets and making difficult cuts during these strained economic times.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I have served the Ward 9 community in many roles, but in talking to the residents, the number one issue is high property taxes. Although the City of Aurora taxes only make up a small fraction of a full tax bill, I feel one role of an Alderman is to help enlighten the residents on the resources available to them. I am currently working on setting up a symposium that would bring the Wheatland Township Assessor, Oswego Township Assessor, and Naperville Township Assessor together for an informational seminar on how to submit a successful Tax appeal.