Aurora City Council
For all its heartbreak, the recent workplace shooting in Aurora brought to light a key positive -- the resilience and strength of a community that came together in tragedy to support each other and give thanks to the first responders who kept the tragedy from being worse. That same spirit and pride of community shines in the 17 candidates seeking seats on the Aurora City Council in April. Here is how we view the contested races.
Ward 1: Llamas
Four candidates are seeking the Northeast ward seat being vacated by Kristina "Tina" Bohman. Electrical contractor Peter Aguilera, attorney Emmanuel Llamas, business executive Amanda Sperzel and U.S. Commerce Department specialist Caryl Riley all bring strong qualities to the table. All agree that the city needs to boost the economic viability of downtown while keeping the local tax burden from becoming worse. Any of the candidates would make a good alderman, but we tip our support to Llamas, who brings a solid perspective on the needs of the ward and would provide a Millennial voice on the council.
Ward 5: Franco
Incumbent Carl Franco is challenged by attorney and arbitrator Bonnie Lee Kunkel and IT business owner Casildo Casey Cuevas in the Northwest ward. All three see the need to bring more businesses and jobs into the city. Kunkel advocates creating a convention center at the site of a former Cub Foods store. Franco looks to bring more residential/business mix into the communities. Cuevas proposes to form a business outreach committee that would use regional sources to attract business to Aurora. All three are strong candidates, but Franco has shown due diligence in his first term and has earned a chance to remain on the council.
Ward 6: Saville
Longtime Alderman Michael Saville is facing a challenge from Matt Harrington, CEO of Ammo Coding Systems, real estate developer Dan Hites and Matthew J. Orr, a custodian for West Aurora School District 129. Saville has represented the North Side ward since 1985 and points to many quality of life projects, such as parks, that he has spearheaded, as well as support for further economic development of the city. Harrington and Hites argue the ward is suffering economically and needs fresh representation. At 20 years old, Orr offers a young-adult perspective with a focus on reducing tax burden and improving infrastructure and community safety. Both Harrington and Orr support council term limits and vow to limit their service if elected. While 33 years is a long time, Saville has established himself as a true cheerleader for the city and deserves another term on the council.
Ward 8: Patty Smith
In Ward 8 on the Southeast side, paralegal Patty Smith, teacher Savannah Smith and Thomas Weil are seeking to fill the vacancy of outgoing Alderman Richard B. "Rick" Mervine. Weil did not respond to invitations to participate in the endorsement process. The other two candidates support the need to attract new business into the ward's struggling Route 59 area, as well as improving infrastructure. Both candidates have the background and enthusiasm that would serve ward residents well, but Patty Smith has extensive experience in advocacy and volunteerism, and gets our endorsement.
At Large: Jenkins
Alderman Sherman Jenkins is seeking his first elected term for the at-large seat. He is challenged by Kane County correctional officer Durrell E. Williams, and teacher Brooke Shanley. Williams did not respond to invitations to participate in the endorsement process, All candidates point to the need for more business development and tax relief for homeowners. Jenkins, however, has been active in the city's business and faith communities and was directly involved in several projects that have benefited the city. We urge voters to keep Jenkins on the city council.