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.
City: St. Charles
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: St. Charles City Council Ward 2 (4-year Term)
Family: Married: wife Michele Three (3) Daughters
Occupation: Regional Manager for SGS Tool Company
Education: Southern Connecticut State College 1973-1976 Norte Dame High School-West Haven, CT 1973
Civic involvement: St Charles Convention & Vistors Bureau-Board of Directors 2011-2013 708 Mental Health Board-2007-2009 St Charles Plan Commission 2001-2005 Vice Chair
Elected offices held: St Charles City Council 2005-Present Planning & Development Committee Chairman 2007-2009/2011-2013 Government Operations Committee Chairmaman 2009-2011 Planning & Development Committee Vice Chairman 2005-2007
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
Charlestowne Mall Please see information below
Key Issue 2
Continued Financial Stewardship When I was elected to City Council in 2005, the City was in financially stable condition. In 2008-09 all of us felt the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930?s-it established theNew Normal? regarding the decline of residential and commercial property values, EAV's etc. During that time, specifically 2009-2011 I chaired the Government Operations Committee-the Committee responsible for the City Budget. I am proud to say that the City has kept its high level of service to residents in a variety of areas-Fire, Police, Electric, Water and Public Works. We have collaborated with the various bargaining units with-in the City to avoid layoffs. We implemented a Voluntary Retirement Program in 2010 and a Voluntary Separation Program in 2011 that helped us reduce headcounts without sacrificing the quality of City Services. The City has not had a Tax Levy increase in the last 5 years on while I have been on City Council. Additionally, we built a new fire station in downtown in 2009; build Red Gate Bridge in 2012 by securing $14 million in funding from non-City source amounting to almost 50% of the total coat. Due to the work of City Administrator Brian Townsend Finance Director Chris Minick, we have a good understanding of our revenue streams and excellent control of City Expenses, and our Moody's Bond Rating currently is at its highest ever at Aa1.
Key Issue 3
Successful completion of Phase 3 of First Street. We have waited long enough. The City has made a substantial investment in First Street in the form of TIF's for infrastructure improvements. The TIF's were implemented before the Great Recession of 2008/09. Commercial Development came to a grinding halt, property values plummeted and banks just stopped lending for these types of developments. The City has recognized the inherent market trends and has collaborated with the developer on any number of extensions of the Redevelopment Agreement. But the City cannot continue to cover the costs regarding the TIF through the General Fund. We are now seeing some activity in the commercial and retail development community and it is time to move from a extensions to activity. I would look to the developers to present to the City by early summer 2013 on how they plan to move forward specifically on Phase 3. If the developer is incapable of moving forward in a reasonable amount of time, the City should consider looking at all options to generate building activity on this parcel of land.
Under what circumstances, if any, should financial incentives, including TIF districts, be used to lure residential and commercial development to the city?
In the past 4-5 years, partially due to the economic climate, St Charles has transformed from agrowth community? to a more mature and stable City. Our borders are basically set, there is little opportunity for annexation to bring in new revenue resources-remember new revenue resources are one way to keep property taxes low on current residents. St. Charles is now incompetition? for development with our Tri-City neighbors and South Elgin and there limited acreage for new development. The City has a number of incentives it can use to motivate development-Sales Tax Rebates, Business Districts, TIF?s, etc. Like with any business deal, both sides must benefit from the incentives. When the City offers a sales tax rebate like we did with Costco, the company uses part of those resources to build a new location in St Charles and provide scores of jobs. St Charles receives the revenues of an improved property site, partial additional sales taxes for a short period and full sales taxes going forward. We also receive the incremental sales taxes for purchases at other business near Costco when people shop on Randall Rd in St Charles. It also spurs further development like St Charles Mercedes, US Adventures RV, etc.
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 Charlestowne Mall is the single most important issues in the 2nd Ward-it is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I wish I knew the future. I do believe retail is going through a significant C-Change in thecollective? business model that says build brick & mortar andthey will come.? Every year we see significant increase in purchases over the internet. The era of new or additionalbig box? stores is certainly in decline and other cities similar to St Charles are facing the same issue-smallerregional type malls? either shrinking rapidly or closing all together. We need to be looking outside our borders to discover what solutions other communities are doing to revitalize these smaller malls. The worst thing that could happen is the closure of Charlestowne Mall. It would devastate the East Side of our City, significant hurt property values-both commercial and residential-and reduce our sales tax intake. Do I believe it will happen-no-Charlestowne Mall is a provendestination.? Classic Cinema pulls in over 700,000 people per year to the movies. Carsons, Kohls and Von Maur continue to thrive. There are other east side businesses-Super Wal-Mart, Super Target, Petco, and a number of restaurants that combined make this are a very viable retail district. What we need are cooperative mall owners who will at least answer the phone when the City calls to discuss ideas and opportunities to revitalize Charlestowne mall. I believe the City should be willing to use every tool in its toolbox to foster economic growth in the east side corridor and Charlestowne Mall in particular and we are currently in the process of using different strategies to foster growth. Regarding the support of Eminent Domain-from my perspective, I believe it is a tool that could be used under the condition that there is a documented exit strategy once the City has ownership of the property. I see zero value for the City to be owners of an under-utilized asset. But if there was aWhite Knight? willing to work with the City and transform Charlestowne Mall from its current condition to a viable and prospering retail destination, AND the only way to facilitate this would be to use Eminent Domain, I would be willing to listen to and collaborate with that type of process.
Are you comfortable with the mix of taverns and the conduct of their patrons in downtown St. Charles?
If this question was asked in August of 2012 I would there is great concern among City Officials and residents on the conduct of patrons downtown. The Mayor brought forth an Ordinance requiring a 1:00AM closure (from the current 2:00AM) due to the number of arrests in the downtown entertainment area. I will give credit where credit is due: the owners of the restaurants downtown have organized and set up a series of rules to focus on improving the behavior of some customers and significantly reduce the number of arrests downtown, especially after midnight. The Tavern Association seems to have accomplished their initial goal of reducing the number of arrests. The proof is in the results, especially in the summertime. As a member of City Council I will request updates on a monthly update during the summer and if there is any increase in arrests we will need to re-address the 1:00AM closure time. As far as the mix of taverns-and I am assuming you are addressing the mix of tavern and restaurants-I would find it very difficult to vote for additional liquor licenses for taverns. If one closes, I would listen to a prospective license-holder as a replacement for the establishment that closed. I am excited to work with prospective restaurant owners (predominately food based businesses) looking to open downtown, and especially on 1st Street.
What aspects must a redevelopment of the old St. Charles Mall property include? Would you support any level of residential development on that property?
I would be receptive to hearing any development plan for St Charles Mall. Due to the proximity to Randall Rd my primary focus would be on developing retail, commercial, entertainment and automotive uses. I think Mixed-Use has merit, but nowhere near the volume of residential proposed in prior plans.
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.
Over the past 8 years of my City Council tenure, what I have heard from many, many residents is how well our public safety personnel perform. This includes Police, Fire and Public Works. Chiefs Lamkin and Mullen (and now Schelstreet) have done an outstanding job of keeping our City safe. Mark Koenen-Dir of Public Works and his entire team keeps our lights on, the electricity and water flowing and our infrastructure up-to-date. I believe the residents of St Charles go to bed at night feeling they are in a very safe and secure community.