Walsten announces bid for Des Plaines mayor

Des Plaines 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten today announced he will be running for mayor in April 2013.

Walsten is the second confirmed contender in what could become a hotly-contested race, since Mayor Martin J. Moylan is running for the state legislature.

Candidates can begin circulating petitions Sept. 25.

Former mayor Tony Arredia announced his candidacy in August for Des Plaines’ top job, which pays roughly $9,000 yearly. Fourth Ward Alderman Dick Sayad also has expressed an interest in running, and rumors abound of at least one other aldermanic candidate, but none other has announced as yet.

Moylan, who is vying to be state representative in the newly drawn 55th House District, plans to serve out his mayoral term if elected to the House seat in November but won’t run for re-election as mayor in April.

Moylan has not explicitly stated whether he would run for re-election if he loses the House race in November.

Walsten said though he has little money in the bank, he plans to raise roughly $30,000 between now and the election.

“It would be nice not to have to go that far, but reality is, to get the amount of signs out, to get the amount of mailings out it could be anywhere from $30,0000 to $50,000,” he said.

Walsten said he will be running on a platform to keep costs down in the city.

“Last two years we had zero percent (property tax) increase,” Walsten said. “We will continue to cut down the debt. We did reduce $20 million (in city debt) in the last couple of years.”

Walsten said, if elected mayor, he would push for the redevelopment of the O’Hare Lakes property off Devon Avenue and the controversial Five Corners tax increment financing district — a 70-acre, largely industrial area near Des Plaines’ downtown. He added he wants to figure out a plan to rescue the city’s two failing TIF districts.

“I would like to do whatever I can to bring a big box (store) into that (Five Corners) area,” Walsten said. “The property owners aren’t happy because they had (the TIF) shoved down their throats and they were never involved in that process.

“Any development down there, when I am mayor, will be completely hand-in-hand with the businesses.”

Walsten said cities like Mount Prospect and Rosemont have reinvented themselves with redevelopment projects like Randhurst and the MB Financial Park At Rosemont, respectively.

“Des Plaines seems to be bogged down,” he said. “I think it’s time to bring in some new energy and some new ideas.”

Walsten said he believes he has a good chance of beating Arredia.

“Since he announced, I have really been flooded with people encouraging me to run,” Walsten said. “There’s a lot of people that feel backing Tony would be going backward. A lot of people think we should try to get some new ideas and move forward.”

Arredia retired as mayor in April 2009 due to voter-imposed term limits. He was the 8th Ward alderman for six years before being appointed mayor Jan. 5, 2000, replacing Mayor Paul W. Jung, who died in office, in October 1999.

Since leaving office, Arredia has been working as director of government relations for Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, a job he said he will relinquish if elected.

Arredia has raised roughly $10,000 for his mayoral campaign.

Walsten said next week he will announce details of his campaign kick off at Café La Cave.

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