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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Alderman-at-Large - Aurora's Most Important Election of 2013 - Cling to Old-Guard or Change for Future?



REDEFINING (AURORA) CITY COUNCIL
By Stephanie Lulay, Beacon-News

AURORA — With the mayor running for re-election unopposed, voters may have expected some serious heat in the city’s only at-large seat up for grabs.
But the race between seven-time incumbent Alderman At-large Bob O’Connor, and Alderman Rick Lawrence, who has represented the 4th Ward for two terms, has steered away from any major bouts of contentiousness. Neither of the polar-opposite candidates are touting endorsements. Neither is spending significant time slamming each other.
Where the votes in the at-large race will likely come down to is their style. Will Lawrence’s brash, sometimes confrontational Council style translate well to the at-large seat, or will O’Connor’s staunchly calm demeanor that has carried him through nearly three decades as an alderman prove he’ll win his seat again?
As a long-term incumbent, O’Connor said that voters have the opportunity every four years to decide whether he’s doing a good job as alderman. In the last year, his proudest accomplishment on Council was to approve funding for a new downtown library, one that was sorely needed, he said.
“We’re in the position where we have to ask the public for approval. The judgement is if they’re doing a good job, you want them in there,” O’Connor said. “I think I’ve done things that have produced positive results.”
After the once-West Side 4th Ward was redrawn to span both sides of the Fox River, Lawrence decided not to run for re-election to his 4th Ward seat. The “break-up” of his ward led him to the decision to run for the at-large seat. If elected, he would seek to work with police to clean up neighborhoods and work with the new Aurora Housing Authority board to address the impact of public housing on the East Aurora School District.
“In the alderman at-large position, I want to take the same approach we used in our (4th Ward) neighborhoods to work in the city’s neighborhoods that need attention,” Lawrence said.
Both admit that their leadership styles as aldermen differ greatly.
O’Connor’s a quiet leader, Lawrence said.
“There’s time I wish (O’Connor) would stand up and hold somebody like (Mayor) Tom (Weisner) accountable. He doesn’t. I do,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said Weisner doesn’t want dissent on City Council.
“So it does become more confrontational,” Lawrence said. “I work for the taxpayers. I don’t work for Tom. That’s my style.”
Lawrence struggles to work with other aldermen, O’Connor said.
“My approach is that there’s a lot of work (that goes into a Council vote). (For Lawrence,) the battlefield will be carried just on the amount of energy and anger he puts into it,” O’Connor said.
Some of Lawrence’s stances certainly aren’t wrong, O’Connor said, “but it’s where it goes from there that’s frustrating.”
The campaign
Lawrence said he may spend time knocking on doors, but you won’t see his yard signs around town. He’s not accepting campaign donations, either, he said.
O’Connor said he’s run this campaign the same way he’s run every other one, door-to-door.
“People know me. They know I don’t just show up at campaign time,” O’Connor said.
In this race, they’ll run on their record, Lawrence said.
“If I haven’t done it in eight years then I haven’t done it. If Bob hasn’t done it in 28 years, then Bob won’t do it, either. A few weeks aren’t going to convince people,” Lawrence said.
Taxes
Lawrence has been the most vocal critic on City Council of the city’s tax levy. As alderman at-large, he’d continue to be, he said. Lawrence voted against the 2012 city tax levy.
“Our tax rate is nearly three times Naperville’s tax rate. That is the result of decades of bad planning,” Lawrence said. “It’s a result of lack of economic development offsetting the costs to homeowners.”
O’Connor, who serves as the city’s Finance Committee chairman, said that the city has held the line on spending, slashing dozens of city positions when the economy went south. The city will have to continue to tighten its belt as the state continues to back away from responsibilities.
“We don’t do things we used to do, like (funding) Downtown Live,” O’Connor said. “No municipality is going to be able to go back to the days of expansive spending.”
O’Connor said he is committed to holding the line on taxes: “the 2 percent increase (in the levy) this year can’t occur every year.”
TIF funding
When it comes to the city committing big bucks in tax increment financing to spur development downtown, O’Connor said he will continue to support the city’s use of TIF funding, especially as a new library and RiverEdge Park are slated to open downtown.
“If you go down the whole litany of (TIF-funded projects downtown), the overwhelming majority of them are positive,” O’Connor said. “TIF has been successful; (property) values have increased and I am committed that when we have a proposal that makes sense, we should proceed.”
Lawrence is a vocal critic of the city’s use of TIF funding downtown. The city kicks too much money to developers who don’t have enough of their own cash at risk, he said.
“If we wanted to look at it on a much grander scale where we actually had people investing their own cash and the risk is on the developer, River Street Plaza is a great example of TIF. Even though the bank owns it now, the taxpayers never lost a dime,” Lawrnece said. “The outlet mall is a good example of TIF.”
But the Shodeen project, and the Restaurant Row project, including the latest $500,000 deal with Vernon LaVia, were bad deals, Lawrence said.
“It should only be used on deals that are viable,” he said.
Library
Lawrence was one of the few aldermen who voted against the building of a new downtown library location in 2012. Although he thinks plans for the new library should be more tech-saavy, Lawrence said his primary concern was “an unfair bidding process.”
“I opposed the way it was done. I think the library could be incredible, but you’ve got to get the corruption part out of it,” Lawrence said.
O’Connor said he completely backs his ‘yes’ vote on the $30 million library project. It was perfect timing, considering the city just accepted a $10.8 million grant from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to offset some of the cost.
“Citizens understood the cost and the situation. The majority feeling was we have got to proceed (with the project),” O’Connor said.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is really shameful that organized debates did not take place between these candidates. What we had instead were two clown acts. One trumped up by O'Connors church and the other by an inept and ridiculous chamber of commerce.

This ask a question and 2 minutes response is ridiculous given the potential depth and substance some of the questions warranted.

It gives no chance for the candidates to demonstrate their level of understanding nor expose their deficiencies.

Anonymous said...

CITIZENS OF AURORA EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE. LEAVE THE BOX FOR MAYOR BLANK

Anonymous said...

Geez, a factual, professional and reality based lead on which posters can comment. No slanted and sophomoric innuendo and gossip. Great going open line. Where'd ya get the material?

Anonymous said...

8:08 you obviously are no fan of Openline. Neither am I; I'm probably one of Openline's biggest critics, and have had as many comments deleted as anyone (none of which BTW had any profanity or personal attacks). We probably agree and post similar comments 99.9% of the time. But this time I have to give credit where due. If I'm going to slam Openline when it's being bad I have to give credit here.

Good post, Openline. Well written, balanced, and fair. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

This is 8:46. I have to temper my compliments to Openline some. Of course it's well written -- because it wasn't written by Openline. I visited here first, then read the morning Beacon and realized I was reading exactly the same article word-for-word. Then I came back here and saw something I'd missed early; in small print so it could be easily missed, Openline credited Lulay and Beacon-News. In the future, if you're going to steal articles from the Beacon please give the credit in the same size font as the article. And again this highlights the real irony of Openline always blasting the Beacon and saying it should be shut down, but it seems a lot of the material is good enough for Openline to steal.

Anonymous said...

Will Alderman Juani Garza (2nd Ward) be indited after the election? It has been an open secret that she has had several interviews with the FBI. Now the Sunday Tribune has a front page article about Washington National's mortgage scam in Aurora. They were located in Garza's ward (31 W Downer Place)and targeted primarily the Hispanic community, many in the 2nd ward, defrauding 50 some homeowners of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anonymous said...

9:53 is a whiny asthenopiatic sleuth

Anonymous said...

He may be but it looks like everyone values old journalism. Even open line -- yikes!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

12:17 Openline doesn't value old journalism, Openline values places they can steal content from. Takes a lot less energy to steal videos and content from others than actually do research. And 10:29, yeah I'm real impressed that you can use such a big word, but don't know the meaning of "whiny". Unless of course you define whiny as truthfully pointing out someone else's failings. There's only one reason for Openline to put the author's byline and the credit for the source of the article in such small print -- to hide it and hope others overlook it. I guess in a way it's my fault; as soon as I saw how well written and fair it was I should have immediately known it wasn't written by Openline. But again, to be fair, Openline DID give the proper source credit; even it it was hidden by fine print, that's still a step forward for Openline. Usually they just steal and don't credit.

Anonymous said...

As a resident of the 4th ward I am proud to vote for Bob O'Conner and by the number of yard signs, I am just as proud of my 4th ward neighbors.

Anonymous said...

The real slush fund money is being spent in the East Aurora school board race. Montroy and Strand have spent over $15,000. Many of the mayors cronies have contributed but the current board has put a stop to cronism. Alarm Detection alone contributed $1000. We need to ask why?

Anonymous said...

The current D131 School Board president is a vindictive liar with serious anger-management issues.

Time for a CHANGE in District 131.
Vote for Strand, Montroy, and Peryea.

Anonymous said...

The Montroy campaign is backing liars and cheats the Better Government and FBI will be in 131 in days and The Montroy supporters will be involved in a major coverup

Anonymous said...

Actually there are few O'Connor signs out in the 4th. Mavis Bates, Donnell, Jay Leonardi, Kevin Matthews and Chuck Norris all had far more signs.

With neither Lawrence or O'Connor actually campaigning and the lack of real debate this will be a low turnout election. I don't think anyone anywhere thinks either candidate really cares because of the way they chose to run their campaigns. On the other hand the citizen's of Aurora don't actually deserve any effort to represent them.

Anonymous said...

Apparently for years Juany Garza has been shaking down Hispanic businesses in her ward, threatening them with ordinance violations, property seizure etc. She supposedly runs a strong arm protection racket. I think that is why it is Federal investigation rather than state level - Rico laws, because it is probably getting kicked up to someone besides her as it obvious Juany was put into place in Aurora.

Just remember how she got into office. She had Marquez thrown off the ballot so he ran as a write in and beat her by over 100 votes (as a write in) only Juany managed to get the votes not counted in a protracted legal fight. That was pretty heavy legal engineering. Far too much engineering for a probable illegal alien.

Her whole style is reminiscent of Al Capone. Think about it she tries and buy the vote of the little guy with free coats for the kids, turkeys, shovel the walks, mow the lawns of the elderly, fences – those are old time mobster tactics perfected in Chicago by Capone.

Hart-Burns, Chapa-LaVia, Gabriela Wyatt are all working the phones and walking for Juany Garza…pretty much sums it up with that crew. Garza reeks of corruption.

Anonymous said...

Not hard to predict the 2nd Ward winner.

Garza = Mexican
Gardiakos = Ecuadorian

2nd Ward = 95% Mexican

Winner = Garza

Anonymous said...

From Ted Mesiacos' Facebook page:

It is my opinion that integrity should be at the forefront of a campaign because if a candidate doesn't demonstrate it while running a campaign why would anyone have confidence they will use it if elected? So this begs the question, why would one of my opponents blatantly misrepresent an endorsement by Alderman Juany Garza? If Alderman Garza really did endorse him, why does she have my campaign sign in her front yard? Why did she refuse to allow my opponent to put a campaign sign in her yard - doesn't make sense, does it? What a disappointment that a candidate feels compelled to lie, and can't stand on his record of achievement, experience and knowledge.

I believe 3rd Ward residents want to be represented by the candidate they know will be truthful, transparent and trustworthy. I, Ted Mesiacos, am that candidate.

Alderman Garza is a strong and productive leader in the 2nd Ward. I hope that the voters in the 2nd Ward show their continued support by voting for her. So please vote on Tuesday, April 9th. Vote for Ted Mesiacos, the best Candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman.

Anonymous said...

9:49

Are there any Rick Lawrence yard signs?

I can identify my neighbors who endorse Bob O'Conner, who endorses Rick Lawrence?

Is there somewhere that I can identify anyone in Aurora that supports Rick, other than this blog of his?

Anonymous said...

9:29 - the point was there is no overwhelming support for Bob O'Connor being displayed in the 4th and Rick is not putting signs, so no there would not be any.

As far as I know all three neighborhood groups in the 4th endorse Rick: BlackHawk Neighbors, West Park neighbors, Boulevard Neighbors.

Anonymous said...

to the first poster 3:14am,

What church are you meaning about O'Connor's Church? is it Holy Angels?

What church does Lawrence attend?

Is it in Lawrence's bio, and where can I find Lawrence's bio/resume?

Anonymous said...

I found on facebook the friends of bob o'connor which includes a description of his background.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-Bob-OConnor/270689646396633?id=270689646396633&sk=info

I am sure that Rick has a similar background description that he is proud to post.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:25 is open line ok with underhanded comments about someone's church without calling them out?

Either remove the bigoted posts rick, or take them as your own.

Anonymous said...

9:29

as far as you know, is there anywhere that this can be confirmed?

Anonymous said...

sorry,

to 10:08

as far as you know,

is there any documented proof, of these groups supporting a candidate?

Anonymous said...

as far as I know Rick is the Queen of England.

Anonymous said...

Call them:

- Fran Shaw Boulevard neighbors backs Rick.

- Wayne Lungren and Emery Norman West Park Neighbors backs Rick.

- Linda Martin and DOug Martin Blackhawk neighbors backs Rick.

The three listed above are the heads of those respective neighborhood groups.

Anonymous said...

Are we suppose to impressed by O'Connors background or lack of substantive accomplishment? Gee a lawyer and politician, the only thing lower is a child molester...

Anonymous said...

what is Rick Lawrence's background?
Is there anything that he does not want us to know, would he pass a background check?

I would not call him a child molester. It is so sad that his supporters are willing to throw that around on others.

Anonymous said...

All members of city council and all employees should have to maintain at least a 750 credit score.

Anonymous said...

9:49 Sounds like Big Brother to me.
You realize that it's ok for Corporations to go belly up, and get bailed out.

So I must ask why shouldn't the regular Joe be bailed out and have his credit score reset?

If corporations are people, ( the Supreme Court recently ruled that corporations are equivalent to people).

Therefore shouldn't people have the same rights as corporations?

Anonymous said...

Because the city has problems with corruption. Several council members are being investigated, we just had one released from jail. Our elected representatives need to have strong finances so they can resist impropriety.

Frankly if you cannot manage your finances I do not think you have any place on a city council, or anywhere near public money or equipment, or vendor relations in any form.

Anonymous said...

thern11:22 pm.
So only wealthy people should hold office.

The down and out aren't worthy
of having a say in The USA.
So in your mind democracy is only for the well to do?

There is more corruption going on with people of wealth than there is for the common man. In this economy, who can find a job that pays more than $10 an hour.

Anonymous said...

Wealth has nothing to do with a credit score. A credit score has to do with financial responsibility, many very wealthy people have horrible credit scores.

And if you cannot manage your credit, than no, you should e entrusted with public financial decisions.

Anonymous said...

The credit score isn't reliable. There have been way too many examples of the companies using erroneous information, even after they've been shown it's wrong. There are financially responsible people with low scores, and irresponsible people with high scores.

Anonymous said...

2:57 - please - really. Corporations do this all the time. If you are in Government it is standard to have credit checks run. We have people voting on hundreds of millions of dollars who may be very susceptible to outside coercion as a result of their financial state.

Anonymous said...

Corporations do lots of things all the time -- many of the stupid and unethical. Maybe it is standard to have credit checks run, but I notice you didn't address the issue of how reliable they are, or are not. But if you think they're so great, let's go w/ your theory all the way. We'll set a bottom credit score that all government workers, elected officials, and voters have to meet. Below that score, you can't work for the government, run for elected office, or step into the polls. Really doesn't matter much to me, my score is very high.

Anonymous said...

let's go w/ your theory all the way. We'll set a bottom credit score that all government workers, elected officials, and voters have to meet. Below that score, you can't work for the government, run for elected office, or step into the polls. Really doesn't matter much to me, my score is very high.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Anonymous said...

Wonder what Rick Lawrence's credit score is, what with his tax problems, liens on his house, lawsuits against his business, etc. Good chance HE wouldn't have been eligible to be 4th ward alderman!

Anonymous said...

Who won the at large race in the 4th Ward? Who took the former 4th Ward precincts between Randall and Edgelawn?

Anonymous said...

Who cares? All that matters is who won the actual race. Trying to break it into little pieces is something losers do to feel better. "Yeah, I lost the at-large race, but I got 90% of these 10 people".

Anonymous said...

Betcha the winner was not Lawrence. So much for everybody in the Ward supporting him. Stronghold in your dreams.