Chris Beykirch: Candidate Profile
Aurora City Council Ward 8
Back to Aurora City Council Ward 8
Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Family: Spouse: Nicole Daughter: Jenna Dogs: Heidi and Carly
Occupation: Business Development Director
Education: Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL
Civic involvement: Aurora City Council 1995-2008 River Valley Workforce Investment Board Aurora Regional Fire Museum Board Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry Board Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church
Elected offices held: Alderman, City of Aurora 1995-2008
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I am the candidate in the race with the most business and government experience combined. I work in a family run organization that employs over 200 people. I am in a superior position to understand a broad range of concerns that exist and can develop for individual families and businesses in Aurora. I am excellent listener which translates into being an outstanding advocate for the taxpayer. My civic involvement helps me to cross paths with even more diversity and opinions. I have two opponents. One would prefer to have a bigger political job and the other is an incumbent who tires easily of returning phone calls and building consensus in the neighborhoods. I demonstrated by being elected four times previously that I connect with people. If elected, I will owe no one but the people who live in the 8th Ward.
What is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales and property taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
The sales tax issue in Aurora has improved over the years given that neighboring communities reflect similar numbers. Therefore, competition remains the same. All the neighboring communities do not have an entertainment tax or a drive-thru tax. These taxes create an environment that costs local residents and business more, but realistically I do not expect those to be rescinded. The real problem in Aurora is the commercial real estate tax base. The division of the budgetary pie creates a heavy burden on the homeowner. Every aspect of commercial growth opportunities the city has must been developed efficiently. Westfield Fox Valley has been a tier 2 mall for years and the ownership is difficult to move towards progress, but over the last several years no effort has been made to re-develop the mall perimeter. The current Alderman has spoken little, if at all about this issue. It will be a priority if I am elected. The same goes for future opportunities at the Eola Road interchange. We cannot undervalue our community by short selling the potential revenue we can derive from the opportunity. It is simply not acceptable that a $250,000 house in Naperville pays approx. $1500 less in city taxes. Finally, the multiplier for real estate taxes remains far higher than when I served the city. Now that property values are increasing again that means even higher taxes. This isn't going to work to create a well-rounded city.
Rate the efficiency of your town's police and fire coverage. Are the departments well prepared for the next decade? What, if anything, should be changed? Do you have specific public safety concerns?
I was part of the city council when we placed a priority on bringing compensation from the bottom third of municipal comparables to the top third. Those efforts have worked and we know that because we no longer lose fine young police and firemen to higher paying departments after we train them. From my perspective today, I am not completely clear on whether we have become top heavy. Every community in Illinois has to be concerned about pension benefits and healthcare for its employees and retirees. My most sincere safety concern looking into the future is the financial viability of maintaining outstanding personnel and equipment.
Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
That is a weighty question for someone who is not involved in the day to day activities of the city, but I can offer this. The economy declined in the later portion of the last decade. The city cut the level of services while seeing that the multiplier increased so they didn't suffer irreparable damages. As the economy recovers, I have not seen the recovery of some of the services. I would like to be able to better evaluate the value taxpayers are getting since I have that prior experience to be a good judge. Needless to say, we have to spend some money getting the Westfield Fox Valley area into the new millennium. There have been no significant projects to the scale of The Foundry in that area since the early 2,000's. Buildings stand vacant. In many cases, the vacant stock is obsolete. Churches that pay no taxes are entering retail spaces their and even building on vacant lots. This is not an appropriate use of commercial land in my opinion. We are rightfully celebrating the success of the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall while we watch another revenue opportunity slide backwards.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I will work to create a Far East Aurora Neighborhood Confederacy to build strength among taxpayers since, after all the power in getting things done is in the voice of the people. We currently have numerous individual groups and associations. By unifying representatives into one voice we can be heard loud and clear. The confederacy would function well as a network to build strength in our vital not-for-profit community throughout Aurora. In essence, we can make people more aware of the needs within our own community while building our political voice.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Not unlike when I ran as a 30 year old in 1995, I find the incumbent to be more of a talker than a listener. He loves the global issues of the city but bores easily on the real nuts and bolts of being an alderman. I have seen the area absorb a 62% sewer tax increase from Fox Metro and he didn't say a word. The city employs the notorious Red Flex to regulate red lights in locations that are ONLY on the east side of town. He says nothing, in fact supports them. I see toilets sitting in parkways for a week or more because they didn't have a sticker. I saw a peculiar response to the mitigation of dead trees from the emerald ash borer. I saw a public project created just beyond people's backyards and they weren't consulted until after the die had been cast. Even worse, when people wanted to discuss it their calls were not returned or at least promptly from what I have heard. What is important to me about this job is the same as it was to my father who was an Alderman in Southern Illinois for 36 years. The Alderman is not a citywide diplomat or a person who stokes his own career using connections from his elected position. As Alderman, I will act as I did for four terms before. I will be an advocate for the taxpayer and those in need of city service.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Bruce Rauner encouraged me that despite all the dismal things going on in Illinois I can make a difference.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My mom and dad are from the greatest generation. I learned to be part of the community at all times in my life.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
My grandfather was in WWI and my dad was in WWII. I wish I could served in the United States military.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English was always my favorite. I have been able to do good things in my life by communicating well.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
"Things" are not nearly as important as you get older as the feeling of belonging to someone and something.