This is a pivotal and very interesting time for the city of Des Plaines. Rivers Casino has rapidly become the most successful casino in the state -- but the potential for increased gambling options, especially if a casino opens in the city of Chicago, could profoundly affect the revenues it produces. An appealing new shopping center has opened downtown, but is struggling amid a moribund economy to maintain its vitality. Significant infrastructure work has addressed some severe flooding problems, yet others remain.
To wrestle with these challenges -- not to mention all the other business that municipal governments conduct -- candidates have emerged to compete for City Council seats in three wards -- 1, 3 and 7. And they provide the opportunity to add an appealing mix of experience and fresh ideas to the city's leadership.
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In Ward 1, incumbent Patricia Haugeberg is well-suited for a return to the council. She has thoughtful ideas for encouraging business development, particularly in the Metropolitan Square shopping center. She recognizes where the city has been successful in recent years, yet she's realistic and forward thinking about what may lie ahead. She's challenged by Robert Giurato, a civil engineer with a valuable professional background but little prior service to the city, and Steve Mokry, a construction worker and library trustee. Both offer individual strengths, but neither poses a great opportunity to expand on what Haugeberg brings to the council.
In Ward 3, Patricia Beauvais seeks a return to the council after a four-year layoff forced by Des Plaines' term limits ordinance. She has remained familiar with city issues, but is challenged by an energetic newcomer, Denise Rodd, who has immersed herself in the business of the city and is well prepared to take on the role of a thoughtful, active and engaged alderman. Rodd gets our endorsement.
In Ward 7, both challengers are newcomers and both have done their homework on the issues facing the city and how best to address them. Our preference is Joanna Sojka, whose background as a financial administrator can be especially valuable to Des Plaines right now and whose passion for improving her ward and the city syncs well with Rodd's. Challenger John Molloy has good ideas and a strong handle on the issues, too, but Sojka's blend of enthusiasm, community knowledge and professional background is especially appealing.