Two-term alderman faces challenge in Batavia Ward 6
Voters in Batavia's Ward 6 will decide if they want to give Nick Cerone a third 4-year term or pick longtime resident Shaunak Dave to serve on the 14-person council.
"Representation matters. I'm here because I think now we need to have people on the board who don't look like everybody else," said Dave, who is an Asian immigrant.
Dave said his skills as an industrial engineer and technology salesperson would be a benefit, as well as his experience as a volunteer with his daughters' volleyball programs, several charities and campaigning for U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood.
Cerone said his eight years of experience is especially valuable because four incumbents did not seek reelection. If elected, Cerone would be the third-most senior member of the council.
"It is important to keep some continuity and senior experience available to the new people," Cerone said.
When asked what is the biggest challenge facing Batavia, both mentioned the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, not just on people's health, but on the city's finances. Some revenues decreased due to closures or limitations on stores and restaurants.
Cerone said he does not support a property tax increase, which the city's finance director has said may be needed in a few years. "Luckily we have done very well with saving and building up reserves," he said, which the city dipped into during the pandemic.
Dave suggested looking for new revenues, such as taxes on the sales of recreational marijuana.
Aging infrastructure, including the crumbling dam on the Fox River, is another top issue, Cerone said.
Dave agreed and said he supports the creation of a master plan for the Fox River Corridor throughout the city.
As for Ward 6-specific issues, Dave said he's concerned about the One North Washington apartment/retail development at Washington Avenue and Wilson Street. He is worried about whether there will be enough parking once that is built, and how the development will affect existing stores and restaurants.
Cerone, who supported the controversial One North Washington development, says he is concerned about traffic during its construction. Building a second street bridge over the river to alleviate congestion on Wilson "is kind of off the table now from a financial standpoint," he said, as it appears no state or federal money is available.
"The flip side is people wanting a more vibrant downtown. They want to stay right here in our town," he said of the concerns.
Ward 6 is generally south of Wilson and east of the river.