Five city council candidates who say they're passionate about serving the largely bedroom community on Aurora's far southeast side have stepped forward seeking to lead Ward 9.
All five candidates will compete in the city's Feb. 26 primary election, with the top two vote getters advancing to the April 9 general election.
Those seeking to represent Ward 9 include a sales manager, a real estate manager, a nonprofit development director, a planning and zoning administrator, and a volleyball official and food company CEO -- each with a different perspective on how to strengthen, beautify, connect and revitalize the area.
Edward Bugg, Matt Harrington, Marge Linnane, Michael Ochs and Bob Shelton are running in the primary with an eye toward the general election.
Bugg, a 46-year-old operating manager of a real estate firm, paints himself as an involved father and resident who tackles issues to improve the community.
He said his accomplishments include working with Wheatland Township and the city of Naperville to address flooding concerns on Normantown Road, which borders the ward on its eastern edge, and creating the South Eola Road Art Project to beautify and generate interest in vacant storefronts.
"I've already tried to be a voice for the people of Ward 9 and take on the issues that are impacting the ward," Bugg said. "I have three young kids -- that's the reason I do it. I want them to live in a great community. I feel it's a good community, but there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed."
Harrington, 50, is director of community and corporate development for the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore and has past experience as a political consultant. He said he has "always been an independent thinker" and he's promoting several ideas to improve the city's economy.
Installing boat docks on the Fox River near downtown businesses, creating a license to allow betting on sports at casinos outside Cook County, and holding weekly "City Council on your Block" meetings are among ideas Harrington is promoting during his campaign.
"My commitment to the community is one of the best things I can show. I have a willingness and a gratitude to serve the people of the ninth ward," Harrington said. "I'm not going to forget who I work for."
Linnane, 60, is assistant planning and zoning administrator for the village of Glendale Heights. She said she plans to retire this year and will have plenty of time to assist residents of her ward with questions and concerns.
"I'm in public service and I love the part of my job where I help the residents," Linnane said. "It just seems like the perfect opportunity to do something I really enjoy and give back to the community."
Spurring economic progress in undeveloped areas of the ward and building better lines of communication between the ward and the rest of city government are among Linnane's goals, she said.
Ochs, 42, is CEO of the food manufacturing company Happy Tummy and a volleyball official who is campaigning to cut what he calls "wasteful spending" from the city budget. He said his experience forming and leading the Neighborhood Organization of Southeast Aurora makes him the best candidate to lead Ward 9 as its alderman.
"I'm not looking to become a city official -- just a community leader and a leader of the ward," Ochs said. "I'm a neighbor first."
Shelton, 51, is a sales manager and former city public information employee who was elected alderman-at-large and served from 2003-07. He says he's the only candidate who could walk into the job ready to go without a learning curve, and he's running to make sure Ward 9 residents have stronger representation at city hall.
"I think it's important for the people of the ninth ward to have a choice," Shelton said.
The candidates are competing for a 4-year term in the ward on Aurora's far southeast side in DuPage, Kendall and Will counties.