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updated: 2/22/2013 6:02 PM

Art Lemke: Candidate Profile

St. Charles City Council Ward 2 (4-year Term) (Independent)

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  • Art Lemke, running for St. Charles City Council Ward 2 (4-year Term)

    Art Lemke, running for St. Charles City Council Ward 2 (4-year Term)




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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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: St. Charles

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: St. Charles City Council Ward 2 (4-year Term)

Age: 65

Family: Married, one Child

Occupation: Information Systems Auditor and Certified Public Accountant

Education: Master of Business Administration, Northern Illinois University, 1984

Civic involvement: Former Alderman. Annual participant in our local Polar Express train in the Blackhawk Forest Preserve.

Elected offices held: Alderman Ward 2, St Charles 12 years

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

I hope to assure that Tax Increment Financing (TIF) opportunities are properly considered for retail projects that subsequently generate sales tax dollars or industrial developments that help the tax base for the city and our school district.

Key Issue 2

The city needs to live within its budget. Many of our tax payers are living on fixed incomes but facing increased taxes and fees from all levels of government. Meanwhile debt incurred as a result of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) becomes a general fund obligation that could result in real estate tax increases or reduced services if the TIF debt is not paid off in a timely manner.

Key Issue 3

St Charles needs to provide retail shopping opportunities for its residents.

Questions & Answers

Under what circumstances, if any, should financial incentives, including TIF districts, be used to lure residential and commercial development to the city?

(This issue is stated in a response provided above.) The city has recently begun to "overuse" TIF financing. While the residential real estate market has begun to recover part of the momentum lost since 2007, it has not reached the robust levels reached in the last decade. When that day comes, residential developers will not need support from other taxpayers. Given the current level of debt from past TIF deals any future use of TIF districts should be limited to retail and other non-residential developments. Those help share other tax burdens, without crowding the schools. Retail has brings the additional opportunity for improving sales tax revenue when our residents can buy things in St. Charles rather than somewhere else.

What is the future of Charlestowne Mall as you see it? Would you support the use of eminent domain by the city to gain control of the property?

The city should seek to work with current owners to develop opportunities for the Charlestown Mall. Existing lease agreements limit the Mall's opportunity to add space for more anchor stores. Anchor stores have consistently been occupied, with the exception of the now-empty Sears site. The Sears automotive center, when properly managed, helped feed other business in the mall. It could be possible to redevelop the former Sears site under the existing roofline, as the mall was able to do with Von Maur. Eminent domain should only be used when other opportunities fail. Historically, the city has first tried to negotiate for property needed for parking or downtown development. An important step in the process is to have the owner and the city each obtain an appraised value of a property. This provided a basis for negotiating terms satisfactory to both buyer and seller. When an eminent domain filing is the first or only step in the process, it has resulted in a less favorable legal outcome.

Are you comfortable with the mix of taverns and the conduct of their patrons in downtown St. Charles?

Whenever possible the city needs to encourage liquor license applicants that offer lunch and dinner choices. Often, people like to have a drink with their lunch or dinner which tends to subsidize good food. Once a business is established, the city has the ability to enforce its ordinances. It seems legally difficult to simply close a business because anyone is "uncomfortable" with it.

What aspects must a redevelopment of the old St. Charles Mall property include? Would you support any level of residential development on that property?

The corner of Route 38 and Randall Road is our best window of opportunity to share in the retail success of the Randall Road corridor. The city needs to make it clear to potential developers that St. Charles needs its share of the retail traffic that moves through that high-volume intersection. We need to be careful to support our existing residents rather than adding more residents that can only shop somewhere else.

Talking with your friends and neighbors, what seems to be their biggest public safety concern? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.

On occasion, neighbors have expressed concerns about the availability of drugs and the fear that drugs are available to school age children. On past surveys, high school children have indicated they feel drugs are available, nevertheless there does not seem to be a rampant drug problem. We need to keep monitoring this risk. In addition, there needs to be community support for healthy after-school activities. We need to continue our support for programs like DARE, National Night Out (NNO) and where necessary, participate in coordinated drug enforcement on a county-wide basis.