Endorsement: Irvin for Aurora mayor

Four years ago, Richard Irvin emerged from a vaunted field of candidates to become Aurora's mayor. Since then, he has taken on the job, as a Facebook follower who owns a local business said, with zeal.

From the start, the Irvin administration has emphasized new development, creating an economic team to find businesses for sites sitting idle like the old Copley Hospital.

The city has used incentives like tax increment finance districts to make the projects happen - and that's some of the beef of Irvin's opponents in 2021. Judd Lofchie, who does impressive work as 10th Ward alderman, has not liked how big many of the incentives have gotten, and he wants more return on investment.

Yet the rehabilitation progress has gotten respect, even from staunch opponents like third mayoral challenger John Laesch, a former East Aurora Unit District 131 school board member who called some downtown work "noteworthy." That said, both Lofchie and Laesch allege pay-to-play politics, accusing Irvin of favoring people and businesses who donate to his campaign. It's good that they're keeping an eye on the donations, but the charge of "corruption" seems premature and exaggerated. A big part of Laesch's platform is making Aurora a predominantly green city. It's an admirable, ideal vision; whether it's realistic may be another matter, but thinking big is important in a city's top leader.

Meanwhile, it's not lost on us that Irvin's tenure so far has included leading Aurora through the Henry Pratt factory shooting, then the racial unrest last summer, some of which resulted in unwanted violence. And then, of course, the pandemic.

Irvin has been an enthusiastic and respected cheerleader for his city, and we don't see a reason to deny him a second term. Irvin is endorsed.

Watch Aurora mayoral candidates debate in group interview

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