Robert O'Connor: Candidate Profile
Aurora Alderman At-Large
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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.
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Family: Wife, Mary; son, Tom and his wife, Teresa and their chikdren, Avery and Beckett; son John and his wife Jill and their children, Mady and Kate
Occupation: Interim Mayor and Attorney
Education: East Aurora High School; University of Illinois,AB, with Honors; University of Notre Dame Law School, JD
Civic involvement: Interim Mayor and Alderman at Large of the City of Aurora; member , Council on Aging of the State of Illinois; Board of Directors, Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging; Board of Directors, Aurora Police Foundation; member, Administrative Board of the Aurora Aquatic Centers;member, former President and Treasurer of the Exchange Club of Aurora;Kane County Bar Association; former member of the Board of Directors of the Aurora Public Library, The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, the Visiting Nurses Association, and the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry
Elected offices held: Interim Mayor, City of Aurora from Nov. 1,2016 to date; Alderman at Large, 1985 to date
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
My Experience in serving as Mayor and Alderman at Large in serving the citizens and in working to put constructive programs in place, including responsible and balanced budgets and long term capital planning. My understanding and communication with the citizens through the number of community and neighborhood organizations that I have been involved with over the years.
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 cannot go any higher but could only be reduced if significant other revenues were available. The actual amount of property tax is lower in $ amount today than it was in 2005; nowever, it keeps going up by reason of additional pension requirements by the State of Illinois. We need to reduce the property tax but only based on again finding increased revenue in other areas and in having genuine pension and educational funding reform from the State
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 believe the police and fire departments presently provide excellent service and their efficiencies are very high. Both departments are involved in the most effective planning possible, within budget constraints, to plan new programs and technologies; they are working hard to get into the next five to ten years. For instance, the police department is developing amore extensive social media unit to monitor and most effectively the vast social media world out there now. We need to work in the future on expanding for the police the Community Policing program , based on its success. The Fire Department needs to continue to work on its coverage ability, in terms of placement of new fire stations or placement of its equipment
Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
The Budget is always being looked at, for duplication of services or personnel, to create better efficiencies or cost saving. A large amount of reorganization was done after the 2008 crash, including a reduction of over 150 employees, Health care and retiree insurance and coverage continue to be a huge concern so this is an area that needs to be worked on every year, particularly in recognition of what could be taking place on the national and state levels. The police and fire department budgets are ones that are always looked to see if they need more personnel or capital requirements.
What is one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
The most effective way to bring together all of the elements of our community- education, social service network, the faith community, business and commerce organizations, neighborhood and community groups and associations---to better communicate and plan the use of all of our resources and strengths to meet community goals and solve problems. Government cannot do what it used to do and the most effective problem solving now is done by partnering and collaboration. Examples are the St. Charles Hospital/ Senior Living project, Invest Aurora development projects with labor union cooperation, summer youth programs, The STEM and magnet school development.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
The most effective and consistent communication with and information to the citizens of Aurora
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
The Golden Rule--always treat others as you wish to be treated(At least, my mother's statement of it!)
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Spend more time with my children - I'm trying to make that up now with my grandchildren
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History - we can always learn from the past as to how to treat people and how to live and work together.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Always show your love to your family