The two candidates vying to represent Des Plaines' 3rd Ward say managing casino revenues and improving the city's business climate are important issues facing the next city council.
Newcomer candidate Denise Rodd will face former 1st Ward alderwoman Patricia Beauvais on April 9. There is no incumbent in the race as 3rd Ward Alderman Matt Bogusz is running for mayor against 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten and former Des Plaines mayor Tony Arredia.
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Rodd, 44, an online editor for the American Osteopathic Association, said her husband urged her to run after she become involved in 3rd Ward meetings and began contributing to Bogusz's ward newsletter. She said her top three issues are fiscal responsibility, government transparency and improving the city's image.
"We represent the new wave of residents in Des Plaines who haven't been heard yet," Rodd said.
Rodd supports using gambling revenues from Rivers Casino to fund infrastructure improvements, particularly current and future projects to alleviate flooding, and paying down the city's debt, per the resolution Bogusz wrote with the help of ward residents that was later adopted by the city council.
"We need to show that as a city council we're a consistent government. That we are making sound choices about our own revenue," Rodd said.
Rodd said the city needs to invest in improving the infrastructure of downtown and the Oakton Street corridor to make them more attractive to businesses and compete with neighboring towns. Yet, the market has to improve for vacancies in Metropolitan Square to be filled, she added.
Beauvais, 55, director of business and program development for Regency Rehab Center in Niles, served 16 years as alderman before leaving in 2009 due to voter-imposed limits on consecutive terms. She said Des Plaines needs aldermen with experience.
"There's a lot of things that have happened in the history of our government," she said. "We have new aldermen and a lot of new staff members and department heads. There's a lot of things that are missing in the discussions. This is a very critical time to have the experience up there because we are getting revenues from the casino."
Beauvais said casino revenues should be used for completing phase two of the Levee 50 project, involving building larger sewers and implementing a flood control system for residential areas west of the Des Plaines River within the 3rd Ward.
Her other top priorities are filling vacant storefronts, and completion of the casino's next phase, involving the building of restaurants and entertainment venues that would maximize revenues from that property.
"I don't see any of that happening," said Beauvais, who was part of the council that put forward the casino plan. "We never talked about some of the things that money would pay for."
Casino money could be used to offer incentives for furthering development around the casino or to accumulate properties around its boundaries, she said.
Beauvais said the city needs to be more aggressive about courting businesses with leaders being more visible and networking at conventions. She said the city should improve the visibility of Metropolitan Square from Miner Street and River Road, try to get more retail stores that sell products versus services in the shopping center, and work with the property owner to reduce rents.
"Rosemont is making an investment in their community. We need to do that as well," she said.