Robert O'Connor: Candidate Profile
Aurora Alderman At-Large (4-year Term)
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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.
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Office sought: Aurora Alderman At-Large (4-year Term)
Family: married, 2 children, 2 grandchildren
Occupation: Attorney at Law
Education: East Aurora High School, 1962 University of Illinois, AB, 1966 University of Notre Dame, JD, 1969
Civic involvement: Member, Board of Directors, Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley Member, Board of Directors, Aurora Police Foundation Member, Council on Aging, State of Illinois Member, Board of Directors, Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging Member, Exchange Club of Aurora
Elected offices held: Alderman-at-Large, City of Aurora, 1985-Present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
To continue the work on assuring responsible fiscal management of our resources, balanced budgets and lowering the real estate tax rate.
Key Issue 2
To continue the work and success with the Aurora Police Department, other police agencies, the citizen and neighborhood groups, the faith based community, the schools and civic organizations, in reducing crime and violence. Continue to discover and put into action, as many ways and strategies possible to involve all the citizens in a commitment to reduce crime.
Key Issue 3
As the City of Aurora is almost built out in its newer areas, provide new levels of support and commitment for development and redevelopment of existing under used and/or abandoned properties.
Downtown Aurora is undergoing a revival, but there are still a number of vacant storefronts. What should be done to spur more business development?
The city through all its resources and in connection with its partners in the Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Aurora Economic Development Commission, Aurora Downtown, among others, should actively market and promote downtown property. By reason that a new and more effective parking plan is going into effect, the building of the new central library and the potential of thousands of people coming to the new River Edge Park, there will be new interest and involvement that we should capitalize on, by making this area a top planning commitment.
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. Provide leadership in getting greater citizen participation through neighborhood and community groups, particularly in areas that have not been as involved or are fighting high levels of crime. 2. Continue to emphasize the most effective use of our C.O.P. (Community Oriented Policing) officers.
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?
Property taxes can be kept in check if we continue to work on growing our economy and community - more goods and services sold - expanded employment - greater number of people visiting Aurora to take advantage of what we offer - all of this resulting in increase of revenue from sales and gas tax, income tax, fees charged for services. With those increases and watching our expenditures, we can hold the line on or even reduce the real estate tax. We must continue to be aggressive in searching out and applying for grants. We have had great success in working with the federal and Illinois governments in receiving grants - toward sewer and environmental improvements, and most recently, the $10.8 million grant for the new library. This money will be applied to the overall cost, thereby reducing by one third the amount of real estate tax necessary. As to other budget considerations: - There can be new hires only in the most critically needed areas. - Combine job responsibilities and tasks, wherever possible. - Continue and expand partnering on services (Paramount for the River Edge Park); communities in schools for school and youth programs).
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I believe I am the best candidate for the job based on my experience, knowledge, and accomplishments for any time in office. My history is that of working well with my council colleagues, the mayor, the city staff and the citizens in cooperation and corroboration in putting programs and plans together. I have worked on and provided leadership in: - Developing the first comprehensive capital improvement plan, and the first extensive flood relief and sewer separation projects, coordinating with the ward alderman. - Working on reforming our budget, making it clearer and more understandable with its information available online - developing a cash reserve - monitoring and reviewing all of our financial planning in achieving our current AA+ bond rating. - Maintaining for 12 years the real estate tax levy at the same level; working on limiting its increase in the last few years at no more than 2.5% due to additional state requirements for pension funding and the providing for the bonding for the Police Headquarters and the central library. - Assisted in creating the SHAPE Fund (Safety, Health, and Public Enhancement) to provide for a specific way to pay for needed police and fire equipment and systems (including our new radio system, costing approximately $15 million). - Worked on the planning and development of the new Police Headquarters and the new Fire Station #8, and assisted in working with the Aurora Public Library in plans for the bonds for the new central library and library system improvements. - Worked with the staff and Alderman-at-Large Irvin in carrying out an improvement in the way to rank the city streets most in need of repair. I am one who does not hesitate to ask the tough questions, and I continually emphasize that we have to do our work more efficiently and with more innovation. I act with dignity and respect for all persons and never hesitate to offer appreciation and acknowledgement for the dedication of and good work done by Aurora's city employees and for the tremendous community commitment and caring given by our citizens.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
To provide more understanding and clarity, plan for the televising of the Aurora city council meetings, in combination with a commitment to meet several times during the year in locations throughout the city, either in the setting of a council meeting or in a town hall setting, with staff available to discuss issues and the opportunity for citizens to ask questions or give their ideas.
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