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Weisner selects new ‘key’ AHA members

Scott Voris

Scott Voris

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Updated: September 17, 2012 9:49PM

AURORA — Mayor Tom Weisner intends to replace two Aurora Housing Authority board members this month, a move that could potentially turn the tide of the seven-member board.

Weisner will replace AHA Board Chairman Al Schuler and member Bill Burns with Aurora businessman Scott Voris and Realtor Shauna Wiet.

Aldermen will discuss the proposed appointments at the Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

Less than a month ago, Weisner appointed former Aurora Police Chief Bill Powell and Rey Cruz, owner of Cruz Investments & Wealth Management, to two other AHA board spots, replacing AHA Board members Avis Miller and Myrna Molina.

Weisner said it was time to put some fresh faces on the board. Weisner has appointed six new board members to the seven-member AHA board since May 2011.

“I don’t want to leave people in multiple terms going forward,” Weisner said. “We have a lot of talent in the community and I want to create an opportunity for more people to serve.”

Clash over Jericho

Weisner said that the direction that Schuler and other AHA board members were pursuing — to rebuild housing at the Jericho Circle public housing complex site — was not in alignment with his goals. He said a rebuild would continue a tradition of segregated housing at the site along Jericho Road on Aurora’s southwest side.

Schuler is the father-in-law of Alderman Abby Schuler, and Burns is married to Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns. In recent years, both aldermen would abstain from votes concerning the Housing Authority because of their familial ties.

Having two AHA board members serve concurrently as aldermen they are related to has meant that the aldermen’s votes in recent years were “literally dealt out,” Weisner said.

The situation eliminated “a percentage of the council from being able to weigh in on these decisions,” he said.

New board members

Voris, president of Kelmscott Communications, is past chairman of the Aurora Area Chamber of Commerce and a former West Aurora School Board member. Voris was also a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing.

Weisner said Voris is “keenly interested (in housing)” and “a well-balanced thinker.”

Wiet is a Realtor at Geneva-based Miscella Real Estate and chairman of the Kane County Historic Preservation Commission. She spent 25 years of her career in urban planning. Wiet is married to City Chief Development Officer Bill Wiet.

“I think there has been a lack of true housing experience on that board in recent years, if not decades,” Weisner said. “(Wiet has) served in a capacity where she dealt with HUD.”

As a member of the Housing Task Force, Voris said he was exposed to a lot of best affordable housing practices.

“At this point... the Jericho Circle site fell short of those best practices,” Voris said Monday.

Wiet said she can’t yet speak about a rebuild at Jericho Circle, but has questions about the constituency that would be served at the site.

“Outright, it doesn’t seem like a very good location for public housing,” she said.

Term disagreement

Last week, AHA attorney Jennifer Soule said the board terms held by Schuler and Burns do not expire in 2013 and 2014. According to City Assistant Chief of Staff Rick Guzman, both Schuler and Burn’s board terms expire this month.

Under Illinois code, Burns and Schuler both should have been reappointed to five-year terms, the AHA attorney argued. But in a letter sent to Soule Friday, city attorneys said the city’s home rule authority trumps the statutory five-year terms.

Neither Soule, Schuler nor Burns could be reached for comment Monday.

A special AHA board meeting is scheduled at 3 p.m. Thursday.

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