Steve Thoren: Candidate profile
Name: Steve Thoren
Family: Wife, Maureen
Occupation: Mortgage Broker
Education: Elgin Community College, Associate's Degree; Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Certified Senior Adviser; Certified state of Illinois Auctioneer
Civic Involvement: Elgin Senior Services, Elgin Township Triad, Elgin Historical Society, Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association, Elgin American Legion, Elgin Eagles Club, Elgin Turners Club, Elgin Riverside Club, Elgin Elks Club, Elgin Moose Club, Elgin Owls Club, Elgin Chamber of Commerce, Elgin Downtown Neighborhood Association, Elgin Senior Provider Network, Elgin House Tour Committee, Admirers of Beautiful Old Dwellings of Elgin, ABODE, Gifford Park Association, Kane County Senior Resources Group, Fox Valley Model T Club, Ecker Center, Boys and Girls Club of Elgin, Neighborhood Block Captain.
Previous elected offices held: Elgin Township Trustee, appointed.
Facebook: Steve Thoren for Elgin City Council
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you plan to address them?
Since March of last year, Elgin's most discussed issue has been the police shooting of Decynthia Clements. I extend my condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Clements. The loss of any community member diminishes us all. But, without getting into the specifics and legalities of the case, I remain steadfast in my support of the Elgin Police Department. We have an outstanding police department. I believe that the correct course of action is to allow the process to unfold, first waiting to see what legal opinions are offered by the Cook County State's Attorney. Whatever the outcome of the case, we need to come together as a community. Elgin needs to endure and thrive. On another issue, I support Elgin maintaining its high bond rating, as that provides us with various financial advantages that help hold down the cost of borrowing for city projects, which, in turn, help hold down taxes. Paying taxes and fees can be very difficult for many of Elgin's middle-class residents. So I would work my hardest to make sure that we don't approve anything that would increase the tax burden on our citizens.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
As a third generation Elgin resident, my financial experience, my years of community service and my resolute desire to help make the city I love the best that it can be are good places to start. In addition, I've worked with most of the current council members on various local projects. No other candidate in this particular race comes close to my civic involvement. I have an inclusive mindset, meaning that I know the importance of working well with others, on and off the council, even if we don't agree on every item or issue. Our common ground should always be what's best for the people of Elgin ... all the people. I'm a homeowner in Elgin. Everything that my wife and I have is invested here. I have a deep love of Elgin history. At the same time, I believe that my passion and platform will help guide us into the future. Elgin and its people are my priority.
Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing actions and decisions with your village board or city council?
Leadership is not about having a title. It's not about winning an election. Leadership is about impact, influence and inspiration. It's about getting results, sharing your passion and trying to inspire others to follow in that general direction. I define my leadership style through positivity and decorum. I believe in consensus. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the highly qualified staff Elgin has hired to professionally conduct itself in very complicated and difficult jobs across all aspects of our full-service city. That includes our police and fire departments, as well as our city manager. I embrace a grass-roots leadership that encourages anyone and everyone to participate in having a positive, proactive voice in our community. I promise to provide leadership, not lectures, and be a capable, credible and ethical city council member for Elgin.
How would you describe the condition of your community's budget and what are the most specific important actions the town should take to assure providing the level of services people want?
I was impressed with Elgin's 2019 budget. I am a strong proponent of holding the line on property taxes, which is a key component to the city's financial accountability. I believe that we must hold the line on all costs to our citizens for municipal services and things such as our water and trash fees. Our current elected officials have exercised fiscal responsibility in making the tough budget choices that Elgin residents deserve and demand. At the same time, the city has set a strong course forward for capital improvement projects and initiatives, including the neighborhood street rehabilitation that continues the work in the Jewett and Gertrude area, north of Walnut Avenue, as well as the reconstruction of the intersection at Dundee Avenue and Summit Street. The city needs to keep its cash reserve at a percentage high enough to maintain its AAA bond rating. I support tightening our collective belt in minimizing employee overtime, which is costly and often unnecessary if we work to retain proper staffing levels. Maintaining a balanced budget that supports city services requires careful planning and constant scrutiny.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I'm a strong supporter of Elgin's ongoing historic preservation, not only as a way of looking back, but also as a way of looking forward. Historic preservation isn't about casting our older buildings in bronze; it's about keeping our older places alive, in active use, and relevant to the needs of Elgin today. We saw it with the successful renovation of the Tower Building. We're seeing it again with the work that local businessman Andrew Cuming is doing downtown. Elgin has the potential to experience a remarkable renaissance, becoming a place where young, diverse families will increasingly choose to live, work and play. Elgin has a distinct ambience. I believe in the promise and potential of using our older and historic buildings to further revitalize our city. I want to use historic preservation to help embrace the challenges of managing an increasingly vibrant Elgin.
A second idea involves putting together a volunteer commission of qualified individuals and real estate professionals to assess and evaluate all city-owned property. Elgin owns more than 400 properties. That's too large a number for a city our size. We need to evaluate and decide what to do with these properties.