Challenger McQuillan takes on incumbent Burns

Updated 1/29/2013 4:30 PM
  • Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns is seeking a fourth term.

    Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns is seeking a fourth term.

  • Bob McQuillan is running for Geneva mayor.

    Bob McQuillan is running for Geneva mayor.

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and opponent Bob McQuillan seem to want the same things for Geneva: Economic growth, tax relief for property owners and a thriving downtown.

"Bob and I have a lot in common," Burns said during a recent Daily Herald endorsement interview.

Burns, 48, is seeking his fourth term in the office. If McQuillan, 56, wins, it would be his first elected public office. He ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 2005, and for the Republican nomination for the 50th District state house seat in 2009.

McQuillan has spent the last decade following the Geneva school board. Geneva TaxFACTS, the group he co-founded, keeps a close eye on the school district, particularly its spending. So why not try again for the school board?

"We've had some major changes, just in the last year (with the school board.) I knew there were going to be a couple of great candidates running," McQuillan said. And he felt he could be perceived as the "old voice."

With Burns unopposed, McQuillan thought the time was right to try for the top job at city hall.

"I always like to have a choice when I go in to the voting booth," he said.

McQuillan said he has a three-point platform.

The first is accessibility to the mayor. McQuillan said he will have set office hours at city hall where people can come visit him, including some evenings and Saturday mornings.

Secondly, he wants to focus on economic development and improving the downtown, including consulting store owners about what they think is needed. He suggested Geneva, St. Charles and Batavia have a joint campaign to attract visitors to the Tri-Cities to get more bang for the dollars spent.

Third is fiscal responsibility. "That's been managed pretty well," he said.

One area he wants to explore for savings is sharing workers, where applicable, between the city, library and park districts.

Burns wants job

Burns ran last year for the Republican nomination for Kane County Board chairman, and briefly entered the 2007 primary for the 14th Congressional District seat.

Burns said being mayor it is the most enjoyable job he has ever held, and that the position has the biggest impact on people because a mayor hires and fires city workers and presides over a city council that makes decisions about things that affect everyday life.

"I've done a doggone good job," he said.

The things that make him the best candidate he said, are his faith and trust in the residents, aldermen, businessmen and city workers, including their abilities; and his ability to accept criticism, acknowledge failure, repent and "move on."

Improving Geneva

Asked for one good idea to better the community, the candidates disagreed over the way city officials make plans.

Geneva has a strategic plan the council revises every year, and last year it had workshops to develop the Downtown/Station Area Master Plan. Burns said he did not see McQuillan at those; McQuillan said he attended a few, but determined they were a waste of his time.

Consultants developing the plan encouraged people to talk about "pie-in-the-sky ideas," McQuillan said. "It's great if you have the funds, but planners need to direct participants by saying, 'Can we afford this?' "

Burns liked the brainstorming.

"Who would have thought we would secure Geneva Commons or the Dodson Place development," Burns said. It was "pie-in-the-sky thinking." Without brainstorming, the city wouldn't have the Prairie Green preserve, or RiverPark, he said.

"If his (McQuillan's) fiat is, 'There will be no global thinking,' we're in trouble," Burns said. To which McQuillan retorted, "Great way to change people's words and their thinking, Kevin. You're known for that."

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