Geneva City Council, school board, mayoral candidates make their cases

 
 
Posted3/8/2017 5:10 AM
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  • Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, left, and opponent Alderman Tom Simonian, prepare for their questioning at a League of Women Voters Central Kane County forum Tuesday.

      Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, left, and opponent Alderman Tom Simonian, prepare for their questioning at a League of Women Voters Central Kane County forum Tuesday. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and his opponent, Alderman Tom Simonian, disagreed Tuesday night over the health of the city, whether elected officials put too much trust in the hired staff, and whether the city should be run "like a business."

The two were the third act at a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County.

The bulk of their debate happened after the Daily Herald's deadline.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Geneva brand is strong. The Geneva brand is vibrant," Mayor Kevin Burns said in his opening remark.

Simonian, who was appointed four years ago, said becoming involved in city governance was like getting a peek inside a sausage factory.

"What I have seen I don't like. My father said the softest pillow is a clear conscience. To clear my conscience, I need to do something about it."

Candidates for Geneva mayor, Geneva school board and Geneva City Council made their cases for electing them, at a forum that ran for three hours.

Questions were submitted by the audience.

City council

Third Ward Alderman Mary Seno said she is running because "There are some projects coming up that I would especially like to see through, especially the southeast industrial park." The city wants to develop farmland east of Kirk Road and north of Fabyan Parkway with industry.

Her opponent, Becky Hruby, spoke of how she and neighbors successfully fought to get the city to repair a crumbling alley in her subdivision. She also said the council should have someone on it who has young children, to better reflect the demographics of the city. (Alderman Tara Burghart has school-age children, and Seno and Warlick have teenagers.)

Should Geneva be a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants? Most of the candidates said it could be considered, if done in conjunction with Kane County, Batavia and St. Charles, and if their constituents favored it.

Not 5th Ward candidate Douglas Warlick.

"Did the person asking the question have their tongue in their cheek?" said Warlick. "Are we serious? It is one thing to talk about immigration and refugees who are properly vetted. I'm a mutt, most of us are mutts. ... Sanctuary city means that you don't follow the law. Are we a lawless community?"

Warlick also had a different answer when asked what the council should do to get more senior housing in the city. "The P.C. thing to say is to say 'I support affordable housing, I support senior housing. ... Isn't real senior housing doing what I want, which is staying in your house after you retire but your real estate taxes are killing you?" He favors changing state law to reduce property taxes for senior citizens.

Fourth Ward Alderman Ron Singer used the question to take a shot at Mayor Kevin Burns. Singer, the oldest candidate at age 84, said he first campaigned on senior housing when he was elected 20 years ago, and that he "never got a response" when he asked the mayor to start work on it. "We need a change in leadership," Singer said. He supports Simonian.

School board

The congenial group of five school board candidates answered questions about taxes, state finances, charter schools and school vouchers, and how the district deals with transgender students.

Only 2nd Ward candidate Michael Clements was absent. He was on a long-planned family vacation to watch a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, according to a letter read by the moderator.

Geneva High School students will conduct a forum for school board candidates at 7 p.m. March 21 in the auditorium at Geneva High School, 416 McKinley Ave.

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