Mervine, Franco capture Aurora council seats
Alderman Rick Mervine won re-election to the Aurora City Council Tuesday in the city's 8th Ward, defeating two opponents -- including the former alderman he was appointed to replace in 2008.
With all 13 precincts reporting, unofficial vote totals showed Mervine with 613 votes followed by Chris Beykirch with 558 and Paul Mandrick with 188.
Beykirch previously was elected four times to the city council, serving from 1995 until 2008 when he stepped down to become the city's small business coordinator. He now works in the private sector again. Mandrick has served as a precinct committeeman and is a 20-year resident of Aurora.
Mervine, a 62-year-old management consultant, was appointed to the seat in 2008 and elected to it in 2009 and 2011.
"It's clear that the way I've handled myself as alderman and the progression of the city during the last seven years has carried the day," Mervine said. "Now we need to continue the strong economic development growth that we've started to see throughout the city. We're also going to push for the same drops in crime stats that they've seen because they've been substantial."
In the city's 5th Ward, retired air traffic controller Carl Franco successfully claimed the council seat held by Alderman John "Whitey" Peters, who did not seek re-election for the first time since 2003. Before that, Peters served 26 years as the Aurora Township clerk.
With all 14 precincts reporting, unofficial results show Franco defeating human relations consultant Steve Solarz 964 votes to 928.
Franco has listed citywide public safety as the most important issue to voters in the 5th Ward, followed by what he calls a lack of economic development specifically at West Aurora Plaza, and along Orchard Road and Prairie Street.
"We need to get some economic development that we can all be proud of going here in West Aurora Plaza and I'm ready to get things started," Franco said Tuesday night. "People are chomping at the bit to have some viable businesses they can patronize in the ward so I'm going to work hard to revitalize the area."
Solarz has decried the city's inability to land business, especially within the ward's business parks.
Solarz has said one of the most important issues at city hall is transparency and accountability in city government.