Voters in St. Charles will not only elect a new mayor April 9. There also could be new aldermen in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5. Good choices abound.
In Ward 1, incumbent Jon Monken faces the man he beat a couple of years ago, Ron Silkaitis. We endorsed Silkaitis then and do so again. Monken is well-known for his civic involvement. Silkaitis was an alderman from 1997 to 2009. Monken is well-spoken yet hasn't seemed to be much of an idea generator. Silkaitis, who was a 12-year alderman before Monken beat him by 24 votes, says he wants to represent and listen to all residents, enact a strong ethics ordinance for all elected city officials, and he admits the city has too many taverns and patrons who too frequently "get out of hand." He said his four years away from the council have given him a new perspective. He says he's not afraid to be the lone yes or no vote. Justin Osborne, 23, who moved to the city in 2000 and is taking his first shot at civic involvement, is also a candidate. Silkaitis is endorsed.
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In Ward 2, incumbent Cliff Carrignan thinks well on his feet and has good ideas. Challenger Art Lemke, a former alderman for 12 years, is well-versed on city issues, but Carrignan's light shines brighter. The ward includes Charlestowne Mall, and Carrignan said the near-vacant structure is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. He knows it needs to be fixed but doesn't pretend he has all the answers. He says redevelopment should be mixed use, with entertainment, restaurants and stores. Carrignan even suggested making part of the mall an extension for a college. Carrignan is endorsed.
In Ward 3, incumbent Bill Turner has been on the council eight years, asks good questions and employs common sense. He's opposed by newcomer Mario VanDerHeyden. We like Turner's stance on limiting liquor licenses and making revocation of a license a consequence if violations become excessive. Turner says the city should concentrate first on addressing the First Street development before tackling Charlestowne Mall. Turner is endorsed.
Ward 5 incumbent Maureen Lewis was appointed in 2010 and elected in 2011 when she beat Kim Malay by two votes. Lewis has not been a disappointment, but Malay, whom we endorsed in 2011, is an effective community activist who anticipates the questions that residents have about projects. That sort of thing needs to happen much sooner and much more often in order for these big development projects to get the early feedback they need. Malay is endorsed.