Lencioni to be seated as alderman after St. Charles amends liquor license rule
After the St. Charles city council voted Monday to amend an ordinance to allow liquor license holders to serve as elected officials, Blue Goose Market owner Paul Lencioni will be sworn in as a 3rd Ward alderman next month.
Lencioni, a liquor license holder who repeatedly has tried to change the law, defeated Chuck Amenta in the April 6 election by garnering nearly 58% of the votes in the ward. But the long-standing law prevented Lencioni from being seated unless he surrendered his liquor license.
Monday's 6-4 vote allows Lencioni to serve as alderman and keep his license, but state statute dictates he must recuse himself from liquor issues put before the council.
City Administrator Mark Koenen noted Lencioni would have recused himself 36 times since the beginning of 2019, but he and retiring Mayor Ray Rogina said they supported a change in the law to allow Lencioni's seating. Lencioni will replace 3rd Ward Alderman Lucy Gruber, who chose not to run in the April election.
"I think St. Charles got it right," Lencioni said. "I failed when I thought I was right in the past, and you just keep going. Now we need to come together for the people of St. Charles."
First Ward Alderman Dan Stellato, Gruber and fellow 3rd Ward Alderman Todd Bancroft, 4th Ward Alderman Lora Vitek -- who will be sworn in as the new mayor on May 3 -- and 5th Ward Alderman Ed Bessner voted in favor of changing the ordinance.
"The residents have spoken," Vitek said. "They clearly have chosen who they want to be elected in this position."
First Ward Alderman Ron Silkaitis, 2nd Ward aldermen Art Lemke and Rita Payleitner, and 4th Ward Alderman David Pietryla opposed.
Fifth Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis, who lost to Vitek in the mayoral race and will hand her seat to Steve Weber next month, voiced opposition to changing the law. But when Rogina, who casts the deciding vote in council ties, declared his support for the ordinance change, Lewis decided to vote in favor.
Opposing aldermen were concerned about the number of times Lencioni would need to recuse himself and said the revision was pushed through too quickly. Pietryla didn't think "the results of one ward contest should speak for the entire city."
"Few have as big a heart for St. Charles as Mr. Lencioni and the Blue Goose, no doubt about it," Payleitner said. "But I do worry that the full issue and the ramifications of changing this haven't been made clear."