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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.
City: St. Charles
Office sought: St. Charles Mayor (4-year Term)
Family: wife, Diane; son, Matthew
Occupation: Alderman, Third Ward, St. Charles; Instructor, School Law, Aurora University
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Education, Illinois State University, 1969; Master of Science in Business Education, Illinois State University, 1972
Civic involvement: Alderman, Third Ward, City of St. Charles; Committee: St. Charles 2014, The Return of Charlemagne; Committee: School District 303 Summit; Committee: Daily Herald All Academic and Leadership Teams; Recipient of Liberty Bell Award given by Kane County Bar Association; Cooperation with local businesses and School District 303 in creating state-recognized Internship program; Cooperation with local judiciary and Bar Association in voluntarily creating Mock Trial tournament for area schools; Volunteer at interviews for East and North High Schools' virtual business program; Volunteer in the creation of the initial St. Charles High School Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Elected offices held: Alderman, Third Ward, City of St. Charles, 2011-Present Board of Directors, Illinois Education Association, 1987-1991 President, St. Charles Education Association, 1982-1988
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
As mayor, my top priority is to support and enhance those city assets that have kept generations calling St. Charles home, that have attracted new residents and visitors to St. Charles, and that have encouraged residents and visitors to return to St. Charles. This vision has to be done under an umbrella of sound fiscal stewardship. Our heritage is deeply protected by landmarks (see issue 3), historical districts, diverse neighborhoods and committed organizations. City support to protect and celebrate our identity is crucial. The city's recognition as great place to raise families is noteworthy, a benchmark worthy of further achievement. Our small town charm, in the shadow of one of the world's greatest cities, is appreciated as an asset worthy of protection. Quality city services is always a standard to maintain and enhance. Finally, working collaboratively with other government entities to support and enhance our infrastructure, our parks, our open space and the treasure that is our river concludes an agenda worthy of calling a top priority/campaign issue. OPPORTUNITY, PROGRESS, RENEWAL None of this can be accomplished without sound, correct fiscal management. The facts are that in my approximately 40 years in St. Charles, OUR town has been a beacon for managing within its means. As we hopefully are at the end of a major downturn in the national economy, and while the evidence is that St. Charles, like other communities, has lost business, the city has managed its books superbly. As an alderman, I am proud of the balanced budgets city government has produced during this downturn; the council has borrowed judiciously at low rates and added to infrastructure while maintaining Moody's second highest bond rating, AA1. We have kept our tax levy flat for five years, and we have a 16.2 million dollar reserve (42% of the budget). Our staff deserves credit for a job well done and for creating a blueprint for the new mayor to support vigorously.
Key Issue 2
The tone of government is a major campaign issue for me. As a teacher constantly seeking input and ideas from students, parents and other teachers, it was only natural to emulate the same as an alderman and hopefully as St. Charles' mayor. Language and practice that divide as opposed to unite, raise more questions than answers, or stymie movement toward consensus should never be principles of good government. My creed as mayor and a leader of our city is to serve people with an understanding that we will make decisions without rush to judgement after listening carefully and with respect. After all, it is always about the residents and the city. And, we will always ask, CAN WE DO BETTER?
Key Issue 3
The net inflow of business enterprise, whether retail, service, or industrial (supported by residents and visitors) should be a major focus of the new mayor and council. It is noteworthy that one of our charming and prized landmarks is the Arcada theater. We know that despite some of the wear and tear associated with an older structure, the Arcada has been an economic engine for our downtown. Conversations with mayors in other states with similar conditions and local suburban Chicago models lead me to believe that the preservation and expansion of the theater is a project worthy of investigation by community leaders--civic, business and cultural, with an end product that may very well become the focal point of economic renewal in downtown St. Charles. The completion of First Street is a major priority given the TIF that provided infrastructure. Extensions of current development agreements should cease with a new administration. Prior to reviewing other options, common sense discussion with the current developers should be completed. Smaller initiatives such as the relaxation of the retail overlay in the central business district in order to allow service businesses to fill empty storefronts (recommended by new Comprehensive Plan draft) and the use of business incubators (Comprehensive Plan draft recommendation) to help small businesses with start up costs need investigation. Given the success of Elgin with foreign companies locating to its industrial parks, I believe a conversation with our Chamber of Commerce about recruitment initiatives makes sense. Finally, the promotion of "shop local" by our city educates citizens to the idea that the multiplier effect of committing to some local trade by citizens on a regular basis provides an immense boost to our local economy while allowing us to grow from within. The mayor and staff should constantly be talking to our merchants asking "WHAT CAN WE DO BETTER?"
Under what circumstances, if any, should financial incentives, including TIF districts, be used to lure residential and commercial development to the city?
Whether residential or commercial, each proposal to develop land is different. Before a city through its commissions, committees and ultimately its City Council supports economic incentives as a condition for development, the complex questions of does it make economic sense and fiscal sense must be answered. From a purely economic perspective, benefits to the local and broader regional community must outweigh the costs of the incentives; arrival at that determination is not easy. But for the incentive, will the proposed development fail to materialize and thus impact the economy negatively (opportunity cost)? Does it impose undue hardship upon the surrounding neighborhood causing hardship economically and to quality of life? From a fiscal prospective, what are the best projections as to the impact on future budgets of the city. How accurate are projected revenues as an offset to clear costs? If a TIF, what kind? What risks? Does the Comprehensive Plan endorse financial incentives for the particular land use in question?
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?
As reported, the Charlestowne Mall is officially for sale. Our newly revised Comprehensive Plan provides a series of alternatives that a task force with input from local residents have determined to be viable choices for land use. I certainly would add the idea of a college extension as part of the development of the property to add immediate foot traffic--day and night. Given the success of Yorktown Mall's revival through the business district concept and the fact that our economic development department has presented this concept as a means of providing incentive to come to St. Charles, I would certainly look at this concept as a vehicle for attracting new ownership to the mall. The business district can be created without any levy of additional sales tax (incentive) in the district. Until such time that there is a viable offer on the mall, I would not consider such a levy. No candidate for mayor voted for any of the five TIF's the city carries. One TIF is creating surplus at this time. I would find it difficult to consider any TIF incentive as a vehicle for attracting new developers to the mall. Reliable sources suggest the mall, with all of its vacancies, is structurally sound; a buyer may find the structure attractive not only to attract another anchor given the success of the theaters, Von Maur and Carsons but to attract small entrepreneurs as well (see business incubator above) As to eminent domain, as stated in the endorsement interview, I would consider this option an extreme last resort given the legal costs associated with a protracted litigation. Frankly, it is an option that the city has available if the mall deteriorates further as to tenants.
Are you comfortable with the mix of taverns and the conduct of their patrons in downtown St. Charles?
Per a discussion at the Government Services Committee on 1/28/13, and the motion I made directing staff to respond to particular questions related to liquor control, conduct, etc. I issued the following press release: ST. CHARLES, Ill., January 29, 2013 Ald. Ray Rogina today called for common sense reforms to the city's liquor code that will help settle the ongoing debate about appropriate closing times. Rogina's proposal would make a 2 a.m. liquor license a privilege contingent upon responsible management and an annual review by the city council. Rogina also suggested that the liquor code spell out specific enforcement actions against bar owners cited for violations to eliminate the subjectivity in enforcements that currently exists. "Clarity in defining punishment takes subjectivity out of enforcement. A step process leading to revocation should be clearly enumerated. Of course, due process is always a required element." Liquor licensees are valued merchants of our community and we are grateful for the role they play in creating a viable entertainment district in downtown St. Charles. But all of us have an interest in ensuring that their operation is not disruptive to the larger community,? Rogina said. Rogina also suggested that the ordinance should clarify the classification of licenses to more clearly delineate the differences between restaurants that serve alcoholic drinks with food and those that do not. Right now, a restaurant that has a primary objective of food sales with a liquor license can be classified in the same category with a bar that serves food. Let's separate the two and ask ourselves the question, how many bars do we want?" It is in everyone's interests to professionalize and modernize the enforcement of liquor control in St. Charles, make St. Charles an enjoyable experience, day or night, yet promise that unlawful behavior will not be tolerated.?
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 most important first step in the development/redevelopment of a particular piece of land is direct dialogue with the immediate stakeholders--the neighborhood. In this particular case, I would seek initial meetings with the landowner and representatives of the residents. Ward alderman would be present. Prior to such a meeting, I would hope that the revision of the Comprehensive Plan was complete so it could serve as a guiding document to alternatives and fruitful conversation. If the Comprehensive Plan suggests mixed use (early drafts do provide some mixed use), then residential development at some level certainly becomes part of the discussion. It is also clear from reading drafts of the plan that there is an emphasis made that any new development should have AN APPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
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.
Talking with constituents face to face, several individual issues have been stated, discussed, and presented to staff. The most repetitive public safety issue has been associated with traffic patterns in neighborhoods and the surrounding area. Constituents have outlined traffic safety issues associated with the Red Gate bridge, proposed housing developments, and existing patterns in established neighborhoods. In each case, residents have brought specific issues to the council with specificity relative to how traffic pattern have or will create public safety concerns. Discussion has ensued with affected constituents, appropriate staff were contacted to evaluate the situation, and appropriate measures were taken and/or a future plan was developed or discussed to address the concern. The issue of liquor control could be construed by many to be a safety issue and as noted above, my action plan was outlined in the form of a press release.