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posted: 3/28/2013 6:44 PM

North Aurora candidates talk business

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  • Allen Cavender

      Allen Cavender

  • Chris Faber

      Chris Faber

  • Mark Gaffino

      Mark Gaffino

  • Michael Lowery

      Michael Lowery

 
 

It seems to be a good-natured race for three village board seats in North Aurora.

"We're going to be boring. We're going to say the same things," said Trustee Chris Faber of himself and Trustee Mark Gaffino, during a Daily Herald endorsement interview.

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The other two candidates are Michael Lowery and Allen Cavender.

Gaffino, a lifelong resident, said he can't imagine living anywhere else. His public service was inspired by the neighbors he grew up around in the 1970s, who were on the village board.

For Faber, "This is where we plan to be for as long as I can see." The town has a "cool little small town feel," while being closes to big-town amenities.

And Lowery, a recent retiree, said he has the time and interest in "seeing what I can do to see the city continues to grow and prosper."

Tough choices

For Faber and Mark Gaffino, their toughest vote was on whether to allow video gambling.

"My first view was 'no,' " Gaffino said. But then businesses approached officials, saying it would help them. And that "goes back to my No. 1 priority," helping current businesses stay and new ones to move in, by being flexible and open to new ideas, he said.

"That was definitely my hardest vote," Faber said, who changed his mind to allow it. "I didn't think it added anything to our town," but he also didn't think it would be detrimental. Furthermore, there are three state roads running through North Aurora, he said, and he worried about repercussions on funding from the state for those roads if the town didn't allow video gambling. The state touted the tax on gambling proceeds as going toward capital projects.

"Some revenue (the village's cut of the gambling intake) is better than no revenue, I suppose," said Lowery, who says he remains concerned about the social costs of gambling, including addiction.

Another tough choice for Faber was the recent annexation of the Zepelak property off Orchard Road. The plan proposed "was a little too open-ended," he said, in giving the developer the ability to change where certain uses, such as commercial, would be placed. Faber also disagreed with the number of apartments in the plan. He said he would prefer to see owner-occupied townhouses.

Lowery said he is also concerned about building apartments, in terms of their looks and the clientele they might draw.

Local economy

"We've done as much as we can as a government entity," Faber said of economic development, depicting the village as being "in salesman mode" the past five years trying to attract businesses.

Improving the economy in North Aurora "is easier said than done," said Gaffino, who owns a landscaping and snowplowing business. He said officials have to be "fluid" in working with businesses, because what people want might not fit current zoning and signage laws.

"People know where North Aurora is," Gaffino said, "but nobody is pulling the trigger."

The village might need to offer some financial incentives, he added. "We don't want to be the town that they say, 'They're too hard to work with.' "

Route 31

As far as improving the look of downtown North Aurora on Route 31, Gaffino's not optimistic. It would be futile to have a "grand scheme" if the village can't get the landowners to buy in to it, he said. Current owners seem satisfied with their status. "We really need somebody to buy a block up," he said. "We need to have a little charge for it."

He would like to see the property developed where the North Aurora Activity Center sits, calling it a prime property on that corner. The village has to have an "exit strategy" for the building, he said, as repair costs loom. An activity center could be built elsewhere, maybe north of the village hall and with the help of the Fox Valley Park District, he said.

Lowery noted that beautifying and expanding downtown North Aurora is limited by the overhead electrical wires that run along Route 31. He would prefer to see boutiques and specialty shops there, rather than fast-food places, a convenience store and automotive businesses.

The east side of town, near Butterfield Road, could use economic help too, Lowery said. "There is a very small amount of services and businesses over there," he said.

Cavender could not be reached for comment Thursday. On an election questionnaire he listed his No. 1 priority as listening more to residents and "being willing to see past the letter of the law or ordinance." He received an ordinance violation ticket in 2007 for watering his lawn after hours.

He wants to repeal the village's tax on utilities, and wrote that the village should be designating more resources to street rehabilitation.

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