Aurora mayor-elect ready to set new course for city

 
 
Updated 4/6/2017 2:13 PM
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  • Aurora mayor-elect Richard C. Irvin says his ideas represent a change in direction for Aurora to reassert itself as a city all its own. He will be sworn in May 9 after beating Richard "Rick" Guzman in a close election.

      Aurora mayor-elect Richard C. Irvin says his ideas represent a change in direction for Aurora to reassert itself as a city all its own. He will be sworn in May 9 after beating Richard "Rick" Guzman in a close election. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Richard C. Irvin is set to become mayor of Aurora after what was his third campaign for the seat. Irvin, 46, says he's wanted to be mayor for two decades and sees the role as a great responsibility.

      Richard C. Irvin is set to become mayor of Aurora after what was his third campaign for the seat. Irvin, 46, says he's wanted to be mayor for two decades and sees the role as a great responsibility. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Aurora Alderman at Large Richard C. Irvin had been planning for this moment nearly all his adult life, and it came true Tuesday when he was elected mayor of the state's second-largest city.

Irvin, a lifelong Auroran and attorney who has served on the city council for 10 years, defeated a candidate supported by longtime Mayor Tom Weisner and will be sworn in on May 9.

He's wanted to be mayor for two decades and ran unsuccessfully for the seat two other times. But this year was different for the 46-year-old, who says he's ready to begin a new era in Aurora.

"I look at this as a responsibility; a great responsibility," he said about serving as the city's elected chief executive. "We're going to be on the map. We are a large city and we're going to start acting like it."

Irvin is among five DuPage County mayors who are stepping into seats incumbents didn't seek. Others are Frank DeSimone in Bensenville, Diane McGinley in Glen Ellyn, Andrew Maglio in Roselle and Albert Bulthuis in Villa Park.

Irvin beat Guzman, 39, who has served as assistant chief of staff in the Aurora mayor's office since 2011. The margin is 170 votes according to unofficial results from the Aurora and DuPage County election commissions. But Guzman hasn't conceded.

In DuPage County, there are 24 outstanding vote-by-mail ballots that could still be counted before the vote is certified, and in the rest of the city, there are 101. That adds up to a potential total of 125 new votes -- not enough to sway the outcome, even if all went in Guzman's favor.

But Guzman's campaign is holding out for an unknown number of potential provisional ballots. Election authorities have 48 hours after the polls close to determine how many provisional ballots have been cast, so Guzman expects to know by Friday whether his loss is official.

Irvin said he is preparing to build a "strong transition team" to work toward controlling crime, improving education and building the economy to bring prosperity to Aurora.

One of his campaign supporters, Sherman Jenkins, said Irvin's message proved he wants to be a proactive leader, promote unity across all races and ethnicities and value the contributions of the business community. Plus, as an East Aurora High School graduate, Irvin's life experiences proved to voters that he "gets it," Jenkins said.

"My message resonated with the people," Irvin said, as did "the leadership style and excitement and enthusiasm I would bring in trying to move Aurora forward."

His plan to treat Aurora as a city all its own instead of a suburb of Chicago resonated with downtown property owner Dan Hites, who said Irvin's grand vision helped him win.

"He has energy, he has the desire to bring in the entertainment and change things," Hites said. "We want a new face, a new direction. It's a rejection of the past."

Yet voters' familiarity with Irvin's work on the council and in the community also helped him prevail in a tightly matched race, longtime Ward 6 Alderman Mike Saville said.

"The community was comfortable with knowing Richard Irvin," said Saville, who was an opponent of Irvin's until he and 83rd District state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia were knocked out of the race in a Feb. 28 primary. "That probably made a little bit of a difference."

Many in Aurora say the city would be in good hands no matter which mayoral candidate won. Saville said the final two candidates advocated similar policies, leading to a tough decision at the polls and a close race.

But Irvin said his win represents a new future for the city of 200,000.

"My supporters wanted to turn the page and move Aurora in a different direction," he said. "And I think it showed."

New mayoral faces

Elsewhere, resigning mayors created opportunities for new candidates to lead.

In Roselle, outgoing Village President Gayle Smolinski steps down with 24 years experience, but newly elected Village President Andrew Maglio is a two-term trustee who has been involved with the village in some way for 31 years.

Maglio beat fellow trustee Wayne Domke to gain the village's top seat.

"I've got somewhat of a familiarity with the grounds I have to cover," said Maglio, 65.

In Villa Park, trustee and Village President-elect Albert Bulthuis says he is prepared to step smoothly into the office being vacated by outgoing Village President Deborah Bullwinkel.

Bulthuis, 67, beat fellow trustee Robert Taglia and small-business owner Charles Pickerill to become Bullwinkel's successor when she steps down after one term.

Bensenville's new village president will be Trustee Frank DeSimone, who beat Trustee Henry Wesseler to win the seat left open by Frank Soto, who resigned to take a state job as an arbitrator with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.

Glen Ellyn's new village president, Diane McGinley, ran unopposed in Tuesday's election after being slated by the village's Civic Betterment Party in December. Presidents in the village traditionally serve only one term, which is why Alex Demos is stepping down after being elected in 2013.

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