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updated: 2/28/2013 3:35 PM

Aurora candidates clash on development, finances

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  • Rick Lawrence

      Rick Lawrence

  • Bob O'Connor

      Bob O'Connor

 
 

The race for Aurora alderman-at-large pits incumbent Bob O'Connor against Ward 4 Alderman Rick Lawrence -- two men who often cast opposite votes on issues of development and finances.

O'Connor, 68, is an attorney who has served on the council since 1985. He leads meetings when Mayor Tom Weisner is unavailable and is chairman of the finance committee.

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Lawrence, 48, is president and CEO of Nuyen Awning and has represented Ward 4 on the city's near-southwest side since 2005. He is running for the at-large position instead of defending his ward seat against a field of challengers that included seven people before Tuesday's primary knocked out all but two.

Voters will decide April 9 whether to re-elect O'Connor, who says he wants to continue his work assuring responsible financial management of city funds, or to elect Lawrence, who says the city's fiscal and economic policies have failed. The winner will serve a 4-year term as one of two aldermen-at-large.

The candidates met recently with the Daily Herald for an endorsement interview and each explained why his philosophy would make him the best person to help lead Aurora for the next four years.

O'Connor said his reason for running this year is the same as when he first campaigned in 1985, and he thinks the city needs to keep building on developments such as RiverEdge Park, which is set to open this summer.

"I just want to keep working. Aurora has gone through so many changes and so many different directions that I think there are great possibilities ahead," O'Connor said. "When I first got into it, it was because I wanted to play a part in what was happening and I think that is just as valid today."

Lawrence said redistricting completed last year to balance populations among Aurora's 10 wards after the 2010 census changed Ward 4 the most significantly, leading him to consider running for a position representing the entire city.

In the past, Ward 4 had been entirely west of the Fox River, but now it includes a sizable section east of the river and south of downtown.

"If we're going to go across the river and start dealing with a different school district and different issues over there -- different housing complexes and different crime issues and things like that -- I thought you really need to do that on a bigger scale," Lawrence said.

He said his strength is "not political correctness," but an understanding of construction and development processes.

"At times I'm pretty direct, good and bad, but what I do bring to the table is actually a lot of knowledge in development," Lawrence said. "When developers bring deals, I have the ability to look at it and determine if it's a good deal or not fairly quickly."

O'Connor said his strength is in working with fellow aldermen to gain an understanding of the needs of their wards and accomplish positive change together. "The ability to relate to and work with and cooperate with your colleagues on the council is going to get us a great deal of a way down the road," he said.

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